Critically Assess the Extent and Impact of Deskilling in Modern Industrial Societies

In: Social Issues

Submitted By cszhu
Words 980
Pages 4
In a capitalist society, production aims to make profits, and means of production is privately controlled. Braveman proposed that capitalism can profit through extraction of surplus value of labour as labour power was directed towards production of commodities, motivating managers to control efficiency and duration of work. Braveman classified deskilling into organisational and technological deskilling. This essay is going to give an introduction, followed by various criticisms and defences before reaching a conclusion.

Organisational deskilling is common in factory settings to separate the conception and execution of work which imitate scientific management. Managerial and technical staff would deal with conceptual tasks such as planning and developing new protocols, while shopfloor workers would be left with the less challenging execution of the work. This method not only limits the discretion of shopfloor workers but also ensures monopoly over technical knowledge about the work.

Technological deskilling occurs in industries that make use of automated processes due to advancement in technology. In mid to late 19th century, intricate workflows simplified with machineries and resulted in deskilling of work, from blue collar to white collar level. Braveman claimed that new technologies do not lead to deskilling but allowed separation of task conception from execution, commonly seen when a small group of managers have control over most of their workers.

The typical cases of deskilling are BESNA and the wapping dispute. BESNA (Building Engineering Services National Agreement) was comprised by seven major employers in the mechanical and electrical sectors in the UK. Employers try to reduce the number of fully qualified, skilled workers and increase the number of less qualified workers by means of payment. BESNA attempted to use machines instead of skilled…...

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