The information society

Lecture 6
Thursday 2nd February 1995

Ewan Sutherland

Jobs and technology


Are the overall effects neutral?

Occupational structure of UK distributive trades

Occupational structure of UK manufacturing industry

Employment in Scotland by sector 1980-1991

Comparison of unemployment rates

Henry Ford


Production line (only cost US$ 3,500).

Investment in machinery (embedded skill).

Division of labour:

Assembly time with production line.

In stark contrast [to a craft worker], the assembler on Ford’s mass-production line had only one task--to put two nuts on two bolts or perhaps to attach one wheel to each car. He didn’t order parts, procure his tools, repair his equipment, inspect for quality, or even understand what the workers on either side of him were doing. Rather he kept his head down and thought about other things.

Womack, Jones and Roos (1990) page 31.

The rise of the blue collar worker

Scientific management

Quality control

New ways

The falling costs of information technology offered new ways to manufacture and to control.

Factory automation

Levels of automation



Technology can:

There are choices in automation.

Taylorist systems

Non-Taylorist approach

Lean production

Henry Ford’s mass production drove the auto industry for more than half a century and was eventually adopted in almost every industrial activity in North America and Europe. Now, however, those same techniques, so ingrained in manufacturing philosophy, are thwarting the efforts of many Western companies to move ahead to lean production.

Womack, Jones and Roos (1990).

Assembly time for luxury cars

Principles of lean production

Advantages of lean production

IT in the motor car

Rupert Murdoch

The decline of the blue collar worker

Categories of openings

Symbolic analysts

... include all the problem-solving, problem-identifying, and strategic brokering activities ... can be traded worldwide and thus compete with foreign providers even in the American market.

Reich (1991) p. 177.

Routine production services

... the kinds of repetitive tasks performed by the old foot soldiers of American capitalism in the high volume enterprise.

Reich (1991) p. 174.

In-person service



Reich, R B (1991) "The Work of Nations; preparing ourselves for 21st century capitaism" Knopf, New York.

Womack, J.P., Jones, D. T., and Roos, D. (1990) "The Machine that Changed the World" HarperPerennial, London

Zuboff, Shoshana (1988) "In the Age of the Smart Machine" Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

Heap et al. (1995) "Information Technology and Society"

Copyright © Ewan Sutherland, 1995.

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