For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Dignity in the Workplace Under Participative Management: Alienation and Freedom Revisited"

by Hodson, Randy (1996)


[Participative management provides a profound challenge to traditional organizations of work. Some researchers view participative management as providing an opportunity for workers to exercise increased power based on heightened responsibilities. Other researchers view participative management as management's newest ploy to extract not only labor but also the knowledge of production from workers. I use a model of workplace organizations that combines elements from Blauner's (1964) technology-based model and Edwards's (1979) labor-control model to evaluate workers' experiences of alienation and freedom across different systems of production. Data for the analysis are provided by the population of published English-language workplace ethnographies. The results provide partial support for Blauner's |bigcup-shaped curve of declining then increasing freedom under modern forms of production. Under participative organizations of work, however, positive and meaningful experiences in the workplace do not return to the same levels that they achieved under the craft organization of work. Relations among coworkers evidence less improvement under participative organizations of work than task and management-related aspects of work. This incomplete recovery of the positive experiences of craft production leaves at least some room for less optimistic visions of emergent workplace relations.]


Dignity, Alienation, Participative Management, Worker Power, Power, Freedom, Marx, Blauner


On Marx on Alienation

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