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Blue-Collar Stratification: Autoworkers in Four Countries

Blue-Collar Stratification: Autoworkers in Four Countries

Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 360
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  • Book Info
    Blue-Collar Stratification: Autoworkers in Four Countries
    Book Description:

    In studying the impact of industry on class organization, social scientists have assumed that the effects of technological advance increase with time and that, as technology molds, dehumanizes, and alienates workers, the pressure mounts to change the system through political action. William H. Form tests these assumptions in his study.

    The author considers whether workers have more to do with one another as societies industrialize, whether they become more involved in organizations, and whether these involvements become distinctively similar, creating an organizational basis for a solidary working-class movement. To examine these questions, he chooses four countries (India, Argentina, Italy, and the U.S.) that vary in the extent of their industrial development. He then compares samples of skilled, semiskilled, and unskilled workers in order to ascertain how specific technologies to which they have been exposed affect their behavior in systems such as the work group, union, party, neighborhood, and nation.

    Originally published in 1976.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-6845-2
    Subjects: Business, Technology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. List of Tables
    (pp. ix-xiv)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xix-4)
    William H. Form
  6. 1 Technology and the Social Integration of the Working Class
    (pp. 5-24)

    When England, Germany, the United States, Japan, and the Soviet Union industrialized, they created large classes of factory workers who proved to be difficult to manage. No matter which elite directed industrialization, factory workers were poorly paid (economically exploited) because surplus capital was needed to build more, larger, and more sophisticated factories. Factory managers tried to legitimate their policies in the name of human nature (greed), religious virtue, state glory, or, ironically, a Utopian future for the workers themselves. These attempts were not permanently effective because workers resorted to sabotage, slowdown, strikes, and even revolution to get a larger return...

  7. 2 Four Nations, Four Cities, and Four Factories
    (pp. 25-50)

    India, Argentina, Italy, and the United States differ considerably in extent of industrialization; Bombay, Córdoba, Turin, and Lansing differ less, and the factories (PAL, IKA, FIAT, and OLDS) are somewhat alike. A basic research question is whether the different national and urban environments in which industrial workers live, affect their life patterns. The first task is to demonstrate that the national and urban environments were, in fact, different. Table 2.1 which presents data on social and economic indicators for the four nations, clearly demonstrates that the United States, Italy, and Argentina are relatively close together on all indicators compared to...

  8. 3 Stratal Origins and Destinations
    (pp. 51-74)

    Recruiting labor in industrial societies is a stratification phenomenon. The occupations of a factory are stratified according to their pay and attractiveness. The higher-paying jobs require expensive training and attract recruits who can afford the training, thus perpetuating the stratification system. As changing technologies alter the demand for particular occupations and as the supply of qualified workers fluctuates, wage relationships change, producing changes in the stratification system. Clearly, the factors which affect the labor market and the stratification system change as societies industrialize. Although a given industry (automobile) needs workers with the same occupational skills in countries of high and...

  9. 4 Community Origins, Industrial Discipline, and Urban Adaptation
    (pp. 75-93)

    Both scholars and laymen have worried about the problems rural migrants face when they move to the city. Although the extensive research on this subject has not been systematically organized (cf. Beijer, 1963), two opposing interpretations dominate the literature. The view with widest currency is that migrants are forced to leave their farms and villages because of economic privation. They find city and factory life depressingly impersonal, become disoriented, avoid fellowship with their workmates, and stay away from their jobs¹ (Mayo, 1945). Moreover, migrants fail to become involved in the union, community (Freedman and Freedman, 1956), and politics (Wright and...

  10. 5 Technology, Machines, and Worker Behavior
    (pp. 94-112)

    European social theorists have long lamented that industrial technology has produced generations of unhappy and alienated industrial workers. The presumption is that the spread of technology to newly industrializing societies will have similar effects. Thus, workers who have been reared in the secure and intimate milieu of traditional communities will suffer greatly and will need much time to become committed industrial employees (Moore and Feldman, 1960). But recently, some studies have shown that new industrial workers are not traumatized by their contacts with machine technology; most seem to accommodate quickly to factory discipline (Lambert, 1963; Reynolds and Gregory, 1965; Karsh...

  11. 6 Autoworkers and Their Machines
    (pp. 113-137)

    Intellectuals hate machines and have elaborated an anti-machine ideology (Report, 1973). While they admit in passing that machines have lightened the burdens of labor, they describe in great detail how machines have unnaturally intruded upon the lives of workers. Often reconstructing a past golden era where all males were skilled, intellectuals emphasize that workers once joyfully practiced their crafts in the warm bosoms of their families. But machines gradually destroyed their crafts and today only a few skilled workers survive in industry. Inexorably machines are robbing workers of their skills, isolating them from one another, and creating alienating work environments....

  12. 7 Autoworkers and Their Unions
    (pp. 138-155)

    Social relations in the factory, while shaped by technology, do not carry over unchanged into the community. Technology’s influence on workers’ relations to groups outside the factory is typically indirect. A possible exception is the labor union, which is supposed to be interested in the work situation and how technology affects it. But the actual involvement of unions in the work situation varies by both industry and society. Some unions are continuously and deeply involved in shop problems and show little interest in external and political affairs. Other unions, deeply involved in national politics, almost ignore problems on the factory...

  13. 8 Technology, Unions, and Political Ideology
    (pp. 156-180)

    In the previous chapter a theory was suggested to explain the union beliefs and behavior of industrial workers in societies at different industrial levels. This chapter attempts to test that theory. I have argued that whatever the extent of manufacturing in a society and whatever their jobs, industrial workers typically support the union because it is their only organizational weapon. They believe that this weapon should be used to improve their wages and working conditions and not for political purposes. The less industry in a society, the more workers emphasize the economic functions of unions; the more complex and changing...

  14. 9 Linking Systems for Working-Class Movements
    (pp. 181-202)

    Both Marx and Durkheim observed over eighty years ago that workers were isolated from the associational life of their societies. Both thought that industry was disrupting traditional social organization and that workers were bearing the costs of social change. Although Marx and Durkheim differed in their Utopian views, both predicted that workers would forge a new society which would reduce their suffering (alienation or anomie). Both predicted that workers would build a new society integrated around new social entities (proletarian states or occupational corporations) which would replace the family as the primary organ of societal integration. Finally, both felt that...

  15. 10 Internal Stratification of the Working Class
    (pp. 203-227)

    An apparent anomaly was exposed in the previous chapter: that although workers had forged solidary work groups and had become involved in many social systems outside the factory, the most active ones did not link these systems in a way that would promote a successful working-class movement. Undoubtedly different sociohistorical conditions explain this failure in each society, but one structural feature of class may inhibit its solidarity everywhere: the persistent cleavages between skilled and less skilled workers. In the structural differentiation which attends industrialization (Smelser, 1963:105-116), the skilled, compared to the less skilled, may become more involved in nonfactory social...

  16. 11 The Social Construction of Anomie
    (pp. 228-254)

    Most workers in the four nations were aware of the major problems confronting their unions, cities, and nations, but they were not active in organizations attacking these problems. The reasons for noninvolvement may vary from one society to another. In some societies, the problems may be so enormous that workers feel that nothing can be done about them, while in others they may see problems as being adequately managed. Even within a society, workers may disagree whether society is integrated or disorganized and anomie. Sociologists have observed that people who are involved in nonlocal social systems tend to see society...

  17. 12 Technology, Participation, and Stratification
    (pp. 255-270)

    The master trend of the past two centuries has been the gradual industrialization of the world. Social scientists interested in the impact of technological change on class organization have often assumed that machines would first dehumanize and alienate workers, but eventually that machines would homogenize, unify, and politicize them. This study has examined one organizational aspect of this complicated problem: whether industrial workers associate more with one another as societies industrialize, whether they become more involved in organizations, and whether these personal and organizational involvements create the basis for a solidary working-class movement. Theoretically, the solidarity of the working class...

  18. Appendix A Evolution of the Study
    (pp. 273-276)
  19. Appendix B Field Problems in Comparative Research: The Politics of Distrust
    (pp. 277-300)
  20. References
    (pp. 301-326)
  21. INDEX
    (pp. 327-335)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 336-336)