The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy

By D. W. Livingstone | Go to book overview

more educated workers have continued to orient toward trying to maintain their relative privileges within established work settings and labor markets, in part through the pursuit of even more credentials, rather than becoming more critical of established workplaces and other social institutions. As Beverly Burris ( 1983b, 108) concluded in the early 1980s:

It appears, then, that new working class theory [and other approaches that expect objective underemployment to lead directly to political disaffection] has underestimated how the elitism and individualism of educated workers can counteract any tendencies towards radical discontent.


CONCLUDING REMARKS

The underlying dynamics of capitalist production -- inter-firm competition, the struggles between owners and employees over profits and wages, and the consequent revisions of production techniques -- continually lead to changes in the specific organization of paid work, and provoke workers to continually learn more in order to be able to adapt to these changes and keep their jobs or try to find new ones. This new and different job-related information is not necessarily more complex or more advanced knowledge; much of what is occurring is job enlargement with increasing numbers and intensity of tasks, rather than job enrichment using more comprehensive knowledge systems in more discretionary ways. The education-jobs gap is primarily related not to educational deficiencies but to "job churning." In particular, underemployment of highly qualified workers is a systemic problem which is far more than an issue of "frictional adjustment."

The analyses presented throughout this book suggest that there has been extensive and increasing underemployment of the working knowledge of many well-qualified people throughout the past generation, especially in North America. Most of the above posited predictions about the class distribution of underemployment have been tentatively confirmed. The class analysis indicates that most objective dimensions of underemployment are lowest among corporate owners and professional-managerial employees, and most prevalent among the working class. The working knowledge of the North American working class is definitely underused in contem-

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The Education-Jobs Gap: Underemployment or Economic Democracy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables and Figures ix
  • Preface xii
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • Introduction Reversing the Education-Jobs Optic 1
  • 1 - The Knowledge Society: Pyramids and Icebergs of Learning 12
  • Introduction 12
  • Concluding Remarks 51
  • 2 - The Many Faces of Underemployment 52
  • Introduction 52
  • Concluding Remarks 94
  • 3 - Voices from the Gap: Underemployment and Lifelong Learning 97
  • 3 Voices from the Gap: Underemployment and Lifelong Learning 97
  • Concluding Remarks 131
  • 4 - Debunking the Knowledge Economy": The Limits of Human Capital Theory" 133
  • Introduction 133
  • Concluding Remarks 170
  • 5 - Explaining the Gap: Conflicts Over Knowledge and Work 173
  • Introduction 173
  • Concluding Remarks 223
  • 6 - Bridging the Gap: Prospects for Work Reorganization in Advanced Capitalism 226
  • Introduction 226
  • Concluding Remarks 274
  • Endnotes 276
  • Glossary of Acronyms 298
  • Bibliography 299
  • Index 331
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