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    RonPrice  77, Male, Canada - 60 entries
19
Jan 2012
8:12 PM AEST
   

TIGHT CONTROL

As the third millennium entered and with it the 21st century in 2001, the long economic boom of the 1990s came to an end. �By then I had just retired from my career as a teacher and a forty year working life. I was on a disability pension in Australia. In the decade, 2001-2011, there was an extension of the digital revolution of the 1990s.� At first that digital-computer revolution seemed that it would mark a definitive break with the manufacturing economy that had thrived in the United States and the West since the late-nineteenth century.

With the pervasive use of IT, information technology, by: banks, insurance companies, hospitals, clinics, even warehouses and retail stores, the era of industrial mass production, it was at first assumed, would fade into the past. Also redundant, so went the argument, would be the blue-collar workers who had manned the old assembly lines. With 80 per cent of the workforce employed in post-industrial white-collar service industries by the turn of the 21st century, economists assumed that there would no longer be any need for a large industrial proletariat with limited skills, passively taking orders from above.

The findings of the three books mentioned below, along with much recent research, suggest that methods of production based on top-down standardization and tight control of work and workers are as influential in the digital economy as they were in the industrial economy. Drawing upon the virtually unlimited powers of computers to monitor the activities of employees and to use information, the old methods for blue-collar workers have simply been readapted for the white-collar workplace.-Ron Price with thanks to Richard Sennett, The Culture of the New Capitalism, Yale UP, 2006; �John Seely Brown and Paul Duguid, The Social Life of Information, Harvard Business School, 2000; and Barbara EhrenreichBait and Switch: The (Futile Pursuit of the American Dream, Owl Books, 2005.

If you don’t like the tight control and top-down
ordering, if you don’t like your boss or the work
in the fast-lane, you can join millions of white-
and-blue-collar unemployed. Armed with your
r�sum� or not, in transition from one job to
another, if you can—trying to land middle-class,
any-class, job with some career coaching, perhaps
personality testing thrown-in,trawling a series of boot
camps, job fairs, and networking events, job-search
evangelical government ministries. You get an image
makeover, workto project thatwinning attitude, yet
getproselytized andscammed, lectured at again-and-
again-rejected—so the story goes. There are millions
who’ve done everything right. They got their college
degrees, developed marketable skills, and built-up
impressive bio-data, a curriculum-vitae. They have
become repeatedly vulnerable to a financial disaster,
& not simply due to the vagaries of the business cycle.

Today’s ultra-lean corporations take pride in shedding
their surplus employees---plunging them, for months
or years at a stretch, into the twilight zone of white or
blue-collar unemployment, where job searching becomes
a full-time job in itself, with few social supports for these
newly disposable workers, & little security for those who
are fortunate enough to have a job at all..goes the story!

Ron Price
24 December 2011

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