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What Is Happening to Jobs

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Analytical summary on the following reading:
Edwards, Paul and Wajcman, Judy in Edwards, P. and Wajcman, J., 2005, The Politics of Working Life, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 19-43.
What is Happening to Jobs?
The main theme in which Edwards et al. portrays within the chapter of ‘What is Happening to Jobs?’ in ‘The Politics of Working life is what individuals expect from work and how those prospects are formed. Through work we can establish our ambitions and our talents and advance our social selves, where as individual and communal work is a vital foundation of meaning and satisfaction in our lives. Conversely, work can therefore create dissatisfaction for individuals. The key points of the chapter are market individualism, alienation and the division of labour, the changing character of labour, and subjectivity, status and satisfaction.
Market individualism is created by the negotiation between employers and employees of a labour contract of an employee’s labour for a wage in return, along with which the wages are spent on supplies suited to an individual’s needs. The notion of ‘consumer sovereignty’ conveys that the individual is the best judge of their preferences and therefore individuals are able to enter into contracts to give away his or her labour.
Alienation and the division of labour demonstrate that ‘structured antagonism’ (Edwards 1986) is implanted within employment relationship, meaning that is characterised by the potential for conflict as well as co-operation. Employees are alienated from the product of their labour and therefore its purpose, along with being alienated from the act of production. Thus, conveying that alienation is not only work displeasure, but it is intrinsic to the employment relationship that includes a structural antagonism between employer and employee.
The changing character of labour, manual work is continuing to decrease but remains an important part of the employment scene. Assembly line work is still typical for automobile manufacturing and food processing. Trade unions have allowed for employers to have a voice over their pay and working conditions. But those who lack union representation are left vulnerable in the fact that they are almost 50% more likely to have deficient employment conditions (McGovern et al. 2004). The nature of emotional work is identified as being in everyone’s private life. Emotional labour has three features; feelings become supplies to be bought and sold, the customer has power over the powerless provider and rules against the display of feelings set by management.
Subjectivity, status, and satisfaction. Subjectivity within the world is demonstrated by four out of ten West Indian women work in hospitals and medical care in the United Kingdom, where these areas over the past two years have increased in low-paid workers. Through the status of women being more caring then men, women made up 96% of employees in private childcare organisations, 93% in community childcare organisations, and 95% in public and private nursing homes (Australian Bureau of Statistics 1998). A key element of satisfaction from work is through the social relationships. Rose 2003: 526. Established that childcare workers who were poorly paid and had low negotiable skills had higher overall job satisfaction than sales managers, demonstrating that satisfaction is not based on how much an individual earns, but on their own personal reflection of their job. Problems, questions and issues arise from each of the key points made by Edwards. Within market individualism the contradictions in the ‘effort bargain’ where managers have to maintain control and secure the commitment of workers which examines employees behaviours and attitudes at work to make sure that they deserve to be getting paid. Questions arise in the key point of alienation and division of labour, such questions are over whether there is an immediate conflict between employers and employees because of the contract of labour between them. The changing character of labour demonstrates the issue of emotional labour and physical labour being addressed as equivalent, but Edwards has argued that a factory worker owns the means of production and how they will behave in relationships with management and customers whereas a service provider and the customer have an unequal exchange. For subjectivity, status, and satisfaction questions arise from the fact that poorly paid childcare workers have greater satisfaction than sales managers demonstrating that it cannot be explained in terms of standard measures of social satisfaction? it may be because childcare workers are more committed and identify with their work. These are the problems, questions and issues that have arisen from the key points in the reading.…...

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