Labor and Capital in the Twenty-First Century: Rereading Braverman Today

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Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)299-311
Number of pages13
JournalEmployee Responsibilities and Rights Journal
Volume26
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 15 2014

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Keywords

  • Braverman
  • Globalization
  • Labor process
  • Manufacturing
  • Work

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Human Factors and Ergonomics
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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