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Title:Working Construction: Organization and Control of the Labor Process
Author(s):Steiger, Thomas Lock
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Form, William,
Department / Program:Sociology
Discipline:Sociology
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree:Ph.D.
Genre:Dissertation
Subject(s):Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Abstract:Theories of the labor process posit that capitalists must control the workplace. Research on the labor process links the logic of capitalism to increasing bureaucratization and mechanization resulting in a loss of workers' control over their work. Mechanization and bureaucratization appear to go hand in hand. The construction industry offers a case where technology does not differ greatly by organizational setting thereby permitting an examination of the effect of organizational structure somewhat independent of technological change on worker's control.
A typology of construction firms base on union presence and number of supervisory layers yields five organizational settings for study. They are bureaucratic-union, bureaucratic-nonunion, entrepreneurial-union, entrepreneurial-nonunion, and builder. Data from 48 in-depth interviews with workers, foremen, supervisors, and owners from each organizational setting indicate that workers' control and autonomy do not significantly vary by setting. In light of research on other occupations, construction workers are exceptional in maintaining control over their workplace despite organizational structures usually associated with a loss of workers' control of the workplace. Theories of labor process view destruction of craft organization and the degradation of craft work as necessary to captialist control of the workplace. The data in this study contradict this proposition. Conventional theories of work and occupation pointing out the variability of the work and the strength of unions are examined and found to be lacking as an alternative explanation of construction workers' advantaged position.
Construction workers' advantaged position is a result of their ideology, their ownership of tools and an industrial structure of extensive and increasing subcontracting--all of which serve to place workers in an advantaged position vis-a-vis other workers, but not at the expense of owners' control of the workplace.
Issue Date:1988
Type:Text
Description:226 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1988.
URI:http://hdl.handle.net/2142/71025
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8823258
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1988


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