may be synopsized: "All of the contradictory tendencies involved
in the restructuring of global capital and computer-mediated work
seem to lead to the same conclusion for workers of all collars
that is, unemployment, underemployment, decreasingly skilled work,
and relatively lower wages. These sci-tech transformations of
the labor process have disrupted the workplace and worker's community
and culture. High technology will destroy more jobs than it creates.
The new technology has fewer parts and fewer workers and produces
more products. This is not only in traditional production industries
but for all workers, including managers and technical workers...."
particularly on computer programmers: "The
specific character of computer-aided technologies
is that they no longer discriminate between most
categories of intellectual and manual labor. With
the introduction of computer-aided software programming
(CASP), the work of perhaps the most glamourous
of the technical professions associated with computer
technology programming is irreversibly threatened.
Although the real' job of creating new and basic
approaches will go on, the ordinary occupation of
a computer programmer may disappear just like that
of the drafter, whose tasks were incorporated by
computer-aided design and drafting by the late 1980s.
CASP is an example of a highly complex program whose
development requires considerable knowledge, but
when development costs have been paid and the price
substantially reduced, much low-level, routine programming
will be relegated to historical memory" (p.
the above is the meat (& potatoes) of the book
but chapters are given over to exploring aspects
of these developments, particularly the commercialization
of science and the university (i.e., the subordination
of knowledge to serve profit-motives to the detriment
of any other determinant).
chapters look at a city-planning office to study
the effects CAD has had on the city-drafters and
designers over the years; unions and their experience
organizing "professionals" such as doctors,
teachers and lawyers; the university tiered, tracked
and tenure system; and recent writers on class (What!!!
Class you say?!).
devote a chapter to class analysis because though
soft-pedaling they locate an important nexus of
social change in a "New Class" of knowledge
workers (after the work of Alvin Gouldner but with
important qualifications), especially as the blue-collar
worker and the service worker are replaced by automation.
They acknowledge that members of the new class have
"traditionally been the servant of corporate
capital and the state." But Aronowitz and DiFazio
see that with the proletarianization of knowledge
workers described in their book and while capital
still depends on their labor the new class begins
questioning their identification with an exploitative
ruling elite. Here the authors' argument is weak.
They say that computer programmers etc. constitute
a new class, yet at the same time while describing
its disappearance they are arguing that they really
aren't that much different from their blue and pink
collar cousins. Why not look to those outside of
productio the marginalized former factory workers,
managers, operators, (and yes, even programmers),
etc., unemployed, or barely employed in temp or
part-time or minimum wage work, who have little
or no stake in the status quo as the "new class"?
couple of pages in The Jobless Future traces the
origins of "The War on the Poor." A changing
perception amongst "liberals and leftist intellectuals"
has seen the resurfacing of the 18th century English
ideal that "moral character" is built
by economic independence, but without consideration
that an unemployable class has no hope of participating
in a shrinking labor market.
last chapter, the authors suggest some "pathways"
for the future, taking into account presuppositions
of their book study. "In addition, our proposals
assume the goal of assuring the ... possibility
...of the full development of individual and social
capacities" (p. 343). Things they argue for:
The need to reduce working hours; regulating capital
to prevent capital flight; education as a right
rather than a privilege (particularly poignant in
"knowledge" times); a guaranteed income;
a new research agenda steered away from profit to
human motives and so on. They argue that we need
to go beyond "full employment" toward
"no employment" through the steps of shorter
work weeks, redistributed work load, and so forth,
and work to set things up so that such is possible.
and DiFazio's argument for a jobless future is convincing.
It's recommended reading for those trying to get
a handle on the changing workplace and its social
fallout. Their book also seems to have arrived into
a spate of no-future-for-work commentary. There's
the FutureWork list (see below).
is also Breecher writing in Z Magazine, a recent
Business Week article on "Re-Thinking Work,"
a Fortune cover story on "The End of the Job,"
the Canadian book Shifting Time by Armine Yalnizyan,
T. Ran Ide and Arthur J. Cordell, and the new book
by Jeremy Rifkin, The End of Work.
In the face
of these observations and predictions, nothing is being done to
address the social dislocation upon us (unless you count prison
construction) when the agency by which humans obtain necessities
through sale of their skills and abilities is going away. Even
worse, as Aronowitz and DiFazio remark at the start of their book,
a grand delusion is in operation "as experts, politicians,
and the public become acutely aware of new problems associated
with the critical changes in the economy crime, poverty, homelessness,
hunger, education downsizing, loss of tax revenues to pay for
public services, and many other social issues. The solution is
always the same: jobs, jobs, jobs" (p. xi).