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

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

cause his work accounts for a share of the total production process and in most instances because machinery investment per worker and the cost of mistakes has increased. Our data suggest that the workers also feel that their new jobs involve more responsibility. Over twice as many workers indicated that their jobs in the automated plant involved more responsibility than their previous, nonautomated jobs and over three times as many workers indicated that their present, automated jobs were more important. . . .


NOTES
1.
The research upon which this paper is based was conducted in 1956 and 1957 in one of the most highly automated automobile engine plants in Detroit. It involved interviews with a random sample, stratified by department size and job classification, of 125 workers from the four most highly automated departments of this plant. All of the workers interviewed had had experience with nonautomated machining operations in the older plants of the company and had been working on automated jobs in the new plant for approximately two years at the time of the interviews. These workers were asked to compare their last previous nonautomated job with their present job in terms of the job content, working conditions, patterns of social interaction, and work satisfaction.

4. WHEN THE COMPUTER TAKES OVER THE OFFICE ·

Ida Russakoff Hoos

Although automation has been introduced in so many areas of our economy and at such a rapid rate that factual information on its economic and social impacts was for some time unavailable, the time for wild- eyed speculation and sanguine indifference is now past. Many organizations are already updating and expanding systems installed since 1955. From their experience we can gain valuable insights into the actual effects of the new technology.


Basis of Research

With a view to obtaining empirical information regarding the impact of automation on office work, I began a two-year study in 1957 of nineteen organizations in the San Francisco Bay Area that had introduced electronic data processing (EDP). These included large and small private business concerns and a few government agencies. Banks, insurance companies, public utilities, manufacturers, distributors, and processors were among the firms studied.

To ensure a balanced perspective, the experience, observations, and reactions of all major categories of office workers were obtained. Intensive interviews were conducted with top management, EDP executives, personnel officials, and union representatives, as well as with tabulating- and key-punch machine operators--all closely associated with office

-72-

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