Harry Braverman – Labor and Monopoly Capital

Harry Braverman, Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the 20th Century.


Chap. 3: The Division of Labor
• Social division of labor
 – divides society among occupations, each equate to a branch of production
 – is enforced chaotically and anarchically by the market
 – are exchanged as commodities
 – subdivides society – enhance the individual and the species
• Manufacturing division of labor (division of labor in detail)
 – destroys occupations… renders the worker inadequate to carry through any complete production process
 – is imposed by planning and control
 – are not exchanged within the factory as within a marketplace, but are all owned by the same capital
 – subdivides humans – crime against the person and against humanity
• Adam Smith’s three circumstances of the division of labor in The Wealth of Nations
 – Increase of dexterity in every particular workman
 – Saving of the time
 – Invention of a great number of machines which facilitate and abridge labor and enable one man to do the work of many
• Charles Babage’s principle of division of labor in On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures(1832)
 – “That the master manufacturer, by dividing the work to be executed into different processes, each requiring different degrees of skill or of force, can purchase exactly that precise quantity of both which is necessary for each process…”
 – In a society based upon the purchase and sale of labor power, dividing the craft cheapens its individual parts.
 – Break it up into its simplest elements.

Chap. 4: Scientific Management
• Drucker
 – “Scientific management focuses on the work. Its core is the organized study of work, the analysis of work into its simplest elements and the systematic improvement of the worker’s performance of each of these elements… Scientific management is all but a systematic philosophy of worker and work.”
• Babbage
 – …probably the most direct forerunner of Taylor…
• Taylor
 – Control has been essential feature of management throughout its history, but with Taylor it assumed unprecedented dimensions.
 – Management could be only a limited and frustrated undertaking so long as it left to the worker any decision about the work. His system was simply a means for management to achieve control of the actual mode of performance of every labor activity, from the simplest to the most complicated.
 – Taylor set as his object the maximum or “optimum” that can be obtained from a day’s labor power.

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