For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Deskilling Controversy"

by Attewell, Paul (1987)


The thesis that capitalism continues to degrade and deskill work in the twentieth century, creating an ever more unskilled proletariat, has been forcefully argued by Harry Braverman and his colleagues. In this article I present a series of theoretical, empirical, and methodological criticisms of the deskilling position, drawing upon a diverse literature, and upon original research. Particular attention is given to the application of the deskilling thesis to contemporary trends in the computerization of clerical work, as a way of highlighting methodological weaknesses in the deskilling approach.


Skills, Deskilling, Understanding, Education, Knowledge, Training


Skills, Labour Process

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