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Title:Shop Floor Politics Under Socialism: Worker Identity, Rationalization, and Company Culture in (East) Germany, 1920--1996
Author(s):Schimmel, Thilo
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Peter Fritzsche
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Sociology, Industrial and Labor Relations
Abstract:This dissertation examines the history behind German companies' failure to attain the highest level of world rationalization, a rigorously Taylorized shop floor combined with a workforce willing to lend their practical expertise to management for the sake of modernizing production. From the end of World War I through the period of deindustrialization after German reunification in the 1990s, it traces the efforts of company managers to modernize the German shop floor, the ways in which the working class cooperated with, rejected, or negated such strategies, and how diverse political regimes---democratic, fascist, and communist---shaped both modernization drives and laborer responses. In the last analysis, German companies had been unable to gather worker consent to rationalization because extending managerial control over the shop floor reduced laborer autonomy. Indeed, this dissertation argues that it was the solidarity created in a multitude of struggles against such impositions that provided an important crystallization point uniting German workers as a class and ensuring the reproduction of class identities from the 1920s to the present. By analyzing the interplay between efforts to rationalize the German shop floor and their contribution to working-class formation, this dissertation engages major historiographical debates about the relationship between German labor history and rationalization, East Germany's longevity as a state despite the massive discontent of its citizens, and about the validity of the social-democratic interpretation of German history.
Issue Date:2008
Description:281 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2008.
Other Identifier(s):(MiAaPQ)AAI3347505
Date Available in IDEALS:2015-09-25
Date Deposited:2008

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