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Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century
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Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century

4.3 of 5 stars 4.30  ·  rating details  ·  379 ratings  ·  23 reviews
This widely acclaimed book, first published in 1974, was a classic from its first day in print. Written in a direct, inviting way by Harry Braverman, whose years as an industrial worker gave him rich personal insight into work, Labor and Monopoly Capital overturned the reigning ideologies of academic sociology.

This new edition features an introduction by John Bellamy Foste
Paperback, 338 pages
Published December 1st 1998 by Monthly Review Press (first published January 1st 1974)
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The title is the first thing which struck me about this book. 'Labor and Monopoly Capital' is vague, but the 'degradation of work in the 20th century' is something raw and immediate. Let's be honest about it. Many jobs these days are just terrible, either from the monotony and repetition of their work, their poor wages, or just the lack of respect and dignity you get from them. Just today, I told one of my close friends how to deal with ocular migraines from stress (I'm dealing from experience). ...more
Does your job suck? I bet you said yes. Are you proud of what you do for a living? "No," right? Chances are good that whoever you are (which is probably just you, Maya, I know), your job requires you to be either chained to a desk or behind a counter or to sell something (and by "sell" I mean throw your scruples into the gutter each morning before you're off to engage in the act of convincing insecure people to spend their money on things they don't need or want, nor had they ever heard of befor ...more
Nov 21, 2013 Geoff marked it as to-read
Amazon=Goodreads=Bezos recommends that I read this. Amazon. Bezos. Wants me to read this.
I had my doubts that this would be interesting, but in fact it is an easy, and excellent read, not at all the dull one you might expect by the title. A well-deserved leftist classic. The alienation of labor clearly has not ended with technological advance and Braverman argues (to me quite successfully) that is has actually gotten worse.

This 1974 work started "the labor process debate" (finding that there was a decline in the use of skilled labor as a result of managers strategy for control). It
Jun 09, 2013 Zach rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: people who want to understand Marx without reading Capital; alienated workers of all stripes
Basically an updating/expansion of Marx's Capital, this book was written in 1974 to make a case for the continued relevance of Marxist theory to late 20th century America. I guess you could call it a kind of pyrrhic victory that we're now over a decade into the 21st century, and Braverman's argument is more relevant than ever. Braverman not only elucidates Marx's theories--in particular the key concept of alienated labor--but he also extends them, showing the ways in which changes in capitalist ...more
This is the kind of book (like Jane Jacob's Death and Life of Great American Cities) that I think every human being in the world ought to know on a basic level, although very few people will want to read it cover-to-cover. The main idea is pretty simple: Employers do absolutely anything they can to apply technology and constantly break jobs down into simpler and simpler tasks. Despite the hype about technology making work easier, it means that over time, there is a constantly growing majority of ...more
I was assigned to read this book for a class in Marxism. I expected it to be as dry as toast but was pleasantly surprised to find the book not just readable but riveting.
Jul 18, 2007 Will rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: anyone who has to work for a living
Shelves: favorites
Ignore the awful title-- this book is the clearest explanation of work under capitalism and what's wrong with it that you'll ever read. The writing is clear and good-humored, the depth of analysis is astounding.
I work with healthcare workers. The same process Braverman described 40 years ago is happening now in our hospitals. Executives are working to seize total control of the work process from healthcare workers, take decision-making away from caregivers, divide up the work into predefined tasks, and eliminate skill -- all in order to maximize profits. Braverman wouldn't be surprised -- he argues convincingly that the need to accumulate capital compels management to constantly reorganize and degrade ...more
Manish Gupta
Harry Braverman's masterpiece. If you have ever wondered why your work is not giving the satisfaction it should, you will find out why. Does not matter whether you are white collar/blue collar or laborer or a knowledge worker, this book would have the answer. Absolutely must read.
Solid, compelling explication of how modern capitalism, in its quest to "rationalize" production, systematically reduces individuals to an homogenous mass of fragmented, alienated, or "abstract" human beings increasingly divorced from both their own powers of conceptualization and the knowledge embodied in the production process as a whole. The absolute thoroughness and pettiness of the "scientific" techniques developed by capitalist management for analyzing, measuring, manipulating and controli ...more
I am reading this for a marxist, socialist book group. Although I have been resisting reading non-fiction lately, my commitment to the group convinced me to read despite my mood.

This is the first book I've read that focuses on how capitalism fucks with skilled workers. I've been a skilled craftsperson for over 35 years and nothing I read seemed unfamiliar. I realize that this is not the information we usually receive, yet it is the reality that most of us live.

We need more books that focus on t
its really cool
Spicy T AKA Mr. Tea
Brilliant critical analysis of the conditions of modern labor; Braverman takes a critical look at Taylorism and the effects of what is called "scientific management." Want to know why your job sucks? Feeling a bit alienated? Don't know how things got to where they are but are fed up with it? Well, this book won't give you all the answers, but it will set you on the right path. This was excellent!
Dan Sharber
this books is one of my favorites of all time. so clear and well written and the content is a fantastic synthesis of both theory and application to conditions of labor both in the past and in the present. a great basis for understanding what is consistent in labor from a capitalist stand point as well as why labor has become particularly stultifying in later stage capitalism. highly recommended!
Important extention of Marx's analysis of capitalism--shows why class struggle is intrinsic to the work experience of everyone in our society. Demolishes the idea that just because we produce more, our lives are better. Echoes Marx in asserting that creative labor is an essential human need and shows why our society denies it to all but a small minority.
An excellent defense of Marxism and a reappropriaton of Marx's economic theories in an era of changing relations in advanced capitalism. One of the most important things discussed in this work is the fluidity of social class, which Braverman believes will ultimately lead to placement in either the proletariat or the bourgeois camp.
Aug 31, 2009 Brian rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: owned
I was very interested in the analysis of how the historical simplification of jobs makes a difference for workers on the micro level. But of course this whole line of literature related to the effects of "monopoly capital" ignored (and frustratingly, doesn't even address) Schumpeter, and we've seen it not borne out.
Chris Tempel
Henry Braverman worked in a few trades for many years before being working in publishing later in life. The intro drives a crucial wedge between sociological definitions of the working class vs the social relations that constitute a working class subject which befits Marxism.
An interesting look at how labor has been changed by technology. A big emphasis is made against Taylorism and Scientific Management (controlling meticulously the decions/process/results) which he argues degrades humanity and their need to imagine/condeptualize/communicate.
Daniel Douglas
Braverman makes a fundamental contribution to the way we understand the labor process under Fordism and port-Fordism.
a masterpiece
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Harry Braverman was an American Socialist, economist and political writer. He sometimes used the pseudonym Harry Frankel.

He became active in the American Trotskyist movement in 1937 and soon joined the newly founded Socialist Workers Party.

In the 1950s, Harry Braverman was one of the leaders of the so-called Cochranite tendency, a current led by Bert Cochran within the broader Socialist Workers Pa
More about Harry Braverman...
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