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mechanized labor. Problems of commitment in newly industrializing societies are surely not due to any increase in the dullness or hardness of work. If anything, in many areas these are likely to diminish as a consequence of factory work. The village peasants' labor is not a source of mental stimulation, nor is it "easy" work.15

Machine pacing and rhythm impart an increased rigidity to the structure of work activities.16 The difficulty of either learning or performing such highly structured activities is at worst a temporary barrier to commitment; for as operative skills develop, the structure of activities per se should pose fewer problems. Routinization of work activities may be morally objectionable, but it makes their learning and efficient performance much easier.17

The worker may regard subordination to machine-structured work as personal and social degradation. If so, this phenomenon represents a major barrier to commitment. The extent and permanence of subordination to the machine in industrial societies are therefore of crucial importance for this analysis. Specifically, it is most important to see whether factors that reduce some of the adverse effects of machine subordination in industrial societies can operate early enough to prevent serious blockage of labor commitment in developing areas.

Two kinds of correctives serve to reduce the degradation associated with subordination to the machine in industrial societies. The first is the re-establishment of technical mastery as a result of ever higher levels of skills in the blue-collar segments of the labor force. The second may be the redistribution of property rights in machines to produce a partial sense of social mastery.

Industrialization and Levels of Skill

In industrial societies workers at the two extremes of the range of skill are usually less affected by machine pacing and rhythm than at the middle. The least-skilled segments of the work force (loaders, cleaners, etc.) are to some extent removed from the machine and are correspondingly less affected. As the level of skill required increases, the worker moves closer to the machine, and his actions are thereby increasingly affected. After a certain point, however, highly skilled personnel (mockup men, designers, tool and die makers) begin to move away from the

15 Arnold S. Feldman, "Men and Machines," Challenge: The Magazine of Economic Affairs, 7(3):62-66 (December 1958).

16 Wilbert E. Moore, Industrialization and Labor, pp. 90–94.

17 Ibid.


machine or are less subject to its pacing. Of course, even the most casual observer of industrial production can cite exceptions at both


The skill distribution of an industrial labor force can be conceived as resembling a diamond standing on one of its points. The two extremes are somewhat constricted, relative to the bulk of workers who are moderately skilled. Nevertheless, highly skilled workers (those who are least likely to be subordinated to the machine) are present in sizable numbers, and current trends in technology indicate that future expansion of the labor force in factories is likely to take place at these high skill levels.18 The new recruit to blue-collar labor in industrial societies can realistically aspire to work of that kind.

Most newly developing areas present a completely different picture of the industrial labor force. The skill distribution in such areas can be drawn as a large and relatively flat base, from which a spindle protrudes. The spindle represents the extremely small proportion of moderately and highly skilled workers, typical of labor force composition in preindustrial societies.

The process of industrialization first leads to the gradual emergence of a pyramidal structure as the moderately skilled occupations expand. This transitional stage is likely to take a long period of time. The final emergence of a diamond-shaped labor force completes the process. At each of the successive stages a somewhat higher level of skill is reached. The transitional phase is characterized by the expansion of moderately skilled and thus more machine-paced occupations; the highly skilled occupations are not likely to experience any significant growth during that phase.

If this description is at all accurate, blue-collar occupational mobility within the industrial sector of newly developing areas is toward jobs that are increasingly machine-paced. The probability of postrecruitment blocks to commitment as a result of this situation is high.

Machines and Property Norms

Property norms frequently become the most sacred elements in the ideologies of industrial societies. This seems to be the case whether the norms favor "private property" or "public ownership." The belief in (if not the fact of) private or public property may be a prerequisite for

18 Friedmann, op. cit., pp. 186-188, 197-200; A. J. Jaffe and Charles D. Stewart, Manpower Resources and Utilization (New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1951), pp. 255-260.

industrialization in different societies. One consequence of industrialization, however, is to alter property norms and particularly the application of these norms to machines. These alterations frequently have a homogenizing effect on property norms despite different ideologies.

Property is best defined as the totality of rights to a socially relevant good or service. The norms of property in the main prescribe the extent to which these rights should be concentrated or dispersed. Actually, no industrial society assigns to a single individual all the rights to a good or service, although the extent to which the rights are dispersed varies with the type of good or service. The very concept of property is social, for only when a good or service becomes relevant to the interaction between people does the concept become meaningful. Social relevance is what is usually meant by "scarce." 19

The rights that are involved in machines are principally the rights of use. These are differentiated in several respects: (a) types of use, e.g., rational, for a particular purpose, etc.; (b) situations of use, e.g., emergencies, circumstances of overwhelming need; and (c) rights to rewards resulting from the use of the machine. These property rights in machines are dispersed according to the number of rights assigned to a single party and the number of parties who share a single right.20

Our major interest in property rights in machines is in the extent to which these rights are shared between workers and "others." Therefore, the treatment of the latter is greatly simplified. The term "other" is used as a matter of convenience, without distinguishing among entrepreneurs, investors, publicly or privately appointed managers, and governmental officials.

The norm in industrial societies sanctions extensive dispersion of machine property rights between workers and others. In a completely socialistic society the workers (who are nominally the owners) are quite limited in the uses to which they can put machines. In the absence of "the people's manager," the workers are limited to "rational" use of machines for a particular product. In all societies some of these limitations are built into the machine by the designer, who in this sense functions as a part of the others. In socialist societies the manager frequently has more rights assigned to him than does his counterpart in a capitalistic society.

19 Kingsley Davis, Human Society (New York: Macmillan Company, 1949), pp. 452-470; see also the references on pp. 476–477.

20 Wilbert E. Moore, "The Emergence of New Property Conceptions in America," Journal of Legal and Political Sociology, 1:34-39, 42-44 (April 1943).

In a capitalistic society workers' rights to machines are incorporated in formal laws, as well as informal norms and procedures. Legislative acts concerning lockouts, collective bargaining and arbitration, seniority, unemployment and retirement benefits, etc. all work to foster the workers' rights to machines. Informal norms such as disapproval of idle machinery, and feelings of responsibility and obligations for employees' welfare, have much the same consequence.

In both capitalistic and socialistic industrial societies the dominant form of economic organization is the large-scale corporation-whether public or private. In regard to corporations, the claim that all rights are exclusively assigned to one party (the stockholders or the state) actually serves to bolster the dispersion of these rights; for the single party to which these rights are assigned is frequently an amorphous group that enters the situation only upon provocation. Since such an "owner" can be located only in the rare case, his "say" in the operating situation is limited unless he delegates these rights to the corporate managers. In this circumstance managers operate under this proxy instead of through legal ownership of the particular rights involved. Indeed, the fact that the manager becomes accountable in case of provocation may dispose him to favor amicable settlement with workers in order to maintain the quiescence of those who have delegated their authority and power to him.

In contemporary capitalistic societies, where a considerable amount of propaganda is given to stockholding workers, the fiction of management acting as a legal owner is obvious. In a socialistic society the manager in theory holds the proxy of the people with whom he deals.

Most discussions of the extensive sharing of a single machine property right have dwelt on the consequences of dispersing corporate "ownership" rights among an ever-expanding body of stockholders. A roughly comparable situation is also the case for those machine property rights assigned to workers. A functionally important characteristic of industrial production is the transferability of both machines and workers.21 In theory, the norms prescribe that those rights to machines

21 Donald J. Bogue, “Residential Mobility and Migration of Workers,” in Haber and others, op. cit., pp. 143–153; Clark Kerr, “The Balkanization of Labor Markets" in E. Wight Bakke and others, Labor Mobility and Economic Opportunity (Cambridge: Technology Press; and New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1954), pp. 92-110; Moore, Industrial Relations and the Social Order, pp. 244-245, 455-478; Charles A. Myers, “Patterns of Labor Mobility" in Haber and others, op. cit., pp. 154-165; Gladys L. Palmer and Ann R. Miller, "The Occupational and Industrial Distribution of Employment, 1910–50,” ibid., pp. 83–92. On the general institutional require

that are assigned to workers are given to the work force and only temporarily to any specific member of it.

The operation of this aspect of machine property norms is most obvious in situations involving changes of employers. In transferring from one employer to another, the worker loses his rights to the machines he has been using but assumes the comparable rights of the work force he joins. The rights he loses are, of course, still assigned to the work force of his previous place of employment.

The sharing of the rights assigned to workers applies within the factory. Ideally, there should be reasonably complete transferability of workers and machines. Actually, the reassignment of machines to dif ferent workers often is associated with considerable conflict. Anyone who has observed stenographers' possessiveness of "company" typewriters is well aware of the difficulties involved in enforcing the norms in this respect. Factory workers show the same kind of possessiveness in respect to certain types of manufacturing equipment. Unfortunately, this aspect of property norms has received little attention, and it is impossible to state with any certainty what rules seem to operate. Some machines are frequently viewed as individual property, while others in the same factory are treated as collective property. The basis of such differentiation is often obscure.

A rationale commonly employed in claiming exclusive ownership of certain machines is the necessity of sensitive mutual adjustments between workers and machines. Available evidence does not indicate the extent to which such sensitive mutual adjustments operate nor the amount by which productivity is increased through these adjustments. It is improbable that most possessiveness of machines is technologically determined, but this variable needs further study.22

ments of an industrial system, see Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), pp. 232-250.

22 Given the high frequency of possessive attitudes toward company property, it is somewhat surprising to note the avoidance of this relationship in the literature. One possible explanatory factor is the common assumption that workers will not become directly or positively involved with machines. This assumption is most basically the consequence of the technological determinism so pervasive in this area. See Robert Dubin, The World of Work (Englewood Cliffs: Prentice-Hall, 1958), in which the coverage of workers' relationships is quite comprehensive, yet there is no material on this particular subject.

Friedmann, op. cit., refers to man's possessiveness toward machines but alleges that it occurs rarely and only in unique situations, i.e., in the highly skilled worker in the small plant (pp. 194-195) or the uniquely satisfactory human relations program

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