How has Harry Braverman’s book Labor and Monopoly Capital, published forty years ago, stood the test of time? In this essay I argue that it remains a vital text for understanding the capitalist labor process. But I also address three lacunae in Braverman’s book. First, it overlooked limits to deskilling, such as the challenge of standardizing services; second, Braverman refused to concede that states could provide workers with material welfare, which can protect them from the labor market; and third, Labor and Monopoly Capital’s vision of the future is unnecessarily pessimistic. Standardization and automation can degrade work, but they also generate surplus that can potentially expand human freedom. Braverman’s critical analysis of production begs an equally critical account of exchange and distribution.
- Labor process
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Human Factors and Ergonomics
- Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management