Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview
we propose to preserve the "ramparts of freedom" without obstructing the compulsive force of our dynamic growth. If the evidence of experience is to be the basis of judgment, the growing labor community in this nation is actively sympathetic with this reading of our future in the making.
5. THE IMPACT OF TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE ON IDEOLOGIES
· Wilbert E. MooreChanges in the occupational structure . . . provide at the very least a modification in the "environment" or circumstances of industrial relations. This minimal inference is likely to satisfy only those addicted to the Marxian or neo-Marxian view that there is one basic cleavage in the industrial system about which all actual or potential conflict is oriented. On other premises industrial relations comprise many interoccupational patterns, to which the changing occupational structure is of central rather than conditional significance. The shifting occupational structure of industry significantly modifies the environment of wage and salary workers. Employees are not a homogeneous single class, and it is no longer useful to picture them as such. The complex occupational structure which derives from modern technology and economic organization contains the roots of significant problems of industrial conflict. This view will encompass more of the observable characteristics of industrial systems than will the Marxian. It is the one adopted here as a basis for a brief and tentative discussion of the implications of occupational structure for industrial conflict.
Destruction of the Solidarity of "Labor"
At the risk of considerable oversimplification, changes in the occupational structure . . . may be reduced to two general trends. Those trends are specialization, with its consequences for changes in demand for particular skills, and the movement of major portions of the working population away from direct participation in physical production. These processes are interrelated and in combination have resulted in an increasing heterogeneity of any industrial category corresponding to the rubric "labor." It is this consequence that partially justifies the somewhat tendentious reference to the destruction of the solidarity of labor. Several components of this process may serve to place the generalization in perspective.
1. The changing demand for skills in industry often upsets the more "normal" expectation of increasing skill and responsibility with age. Both public and industrial training facilities are primarily geared to the supply of new skills by youthful entrants to the labor force rather than by adult retraining.1 Thus several "skill generations" may be represented in the same manufacturing unit, with a negative correlation between age and seniority on the one hand and technical competence on the other. Even without such troublesome issues as pensions to divide laboring groups on

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