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Work and Unemployment as Social Issues Harley D. Dickenson Group Members: Joe, Jun (Benny), Stephanie, Justin.

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Presentation on theme: "Work and Unemployment as Social Issues Harley D. Dickenson Group Members: Joe, Jun (Benny), Stephanie, Justin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Work and Unemployment as Social Issues Harley D. Dickenson Group Members: Joe, Jun (Benny), Stephanie, Justin

2 Main Argument “Unemployment is appropriately understood as a social issue – and not just as a personal problem” “Unemployment is appropriately understood as a social issue – and not just as a personal problem” Let’s examine this further…

3 Personal Problem – “one whose causes and solutions lie within the individual and the individual’s immediate environment” – text pg 2 Social Problem – “one whose causes and solutions lie outside the individual and his or her immediate environment” – text pg 2

4 …so what is Dickenson’s point? Basically that “unemployment is largely a consequence of contradictions in the nature and organization of employment, or the characteristics of work processes in modern capitalist societies.” Basically that “unemployment is largely a consequence of contradictions in the nature and organization of employment, or the characteristics of work processes in modern capitalist societies.” Is this accurate?

5 Dickenson examines this issue in four parts: 1. By arguing that the specific nature of capitalist class relations creates the circumstances within which unemployment emerges as a major social issue. (Rise of Capitalist Mode of Production) 2. By showing how the pursuit of employer interests results in unemployment. (Labour Process Theory) (Division of Labour and Work) 3. By examining some of the ways in which the transformation of work results in changes to the structure of the economy and the nature of both employment and unemployment. 4. By offering a solution. Let’s take a closer look at each…

6 1. Rise of Capitalist Mode of Production Individuals rely on employment income for survival and few, if any, alternatives exist. Individuals rely on employment income for survival and few, if any, alternatives exist.THUS, wage earners are dependant upon employers for jobs, income, and survival.  Much social policy is directed toward achieving this end. cont…

7 …cont  With the rise of industrialization in Canada an increasing proportion of the population transforms into members of the wage earning class. This, in turn, translates into an increasing number of individuals in, and entering into, the labour force. cont…

8 … cont *Chart for visual effect only. Does not represent actual Canadian economic growth  Effect - As economic growth fluctuates, individuals entering the labour force are exposed to varying shifts in labour market conditions, skill requirements, and developing technological changes. cont…

9 …cont  Result – “different categories of people, such as women, the young, the elderly, and members of ethnic minorities perform different types of jobs under different working conditions, for different levels of pay and with different consequences. Such as, a different probability and duration of employment.” *sociological perspective

10 2.Labour Process Theory Rooted in Capitalism Rooted in Capitalism Meaning that the capitalist mode of production and accumulation is dominant.  Capitalism relies on the relationship between (at least) 2 classes of individuals: I. Capitalists II. Working Class cont… cont…

11 …cont I. Capitalist – Those who control the means of production. They own or control all the necessary inputs, exclusive of labour, needed to produce goods and services. II. Working Class – Members of the population who do not own any means of production and who sell their labour power for wages and salaries to those who control the means of production. However, this relationship is inequitably balanced…

12 …Although these parties are mutually dependent, the working class is economically, socially, and politically subordinate to the capitalist class. …Although these parties are mutually dependent, the working class is economically, socially, and politically subordinate to the capitalist class. The primary objective of capitalist production is to earn profits for business owners…

13 …How? Cost reductions and increased productivity 1. Absolute Reductions in the costs of production – reduction in wage and salary rates/ reducing work hours 2. Relative reductions in the costs of production – increasing worker productivity/ decreasing cost per unit This translates into what is known as…

14 …The Capitalist Division of Labour and Work Breaking down any given process into its constituent tasks. Breaking down any given process into its constituent tasks. Increased wage labourers doing simple repetitive tasks. Efficiency and Flexibility Consequences… Consequences…

15 …reducing individual skill level and reducing wages paid to workers. Lower skilled workers are left with fewer opportunities outside of the firm or industry in which their skill is required… STRUCTURAL UNEMPLOYMENT?

16 …cont Result – workers become unemployed, underemployed, deskilled, unmotivated, discouraged, and may no longer seek employment (therefore no longer included in the unemployment rate). Also, consumer purchasing power is affected. We are now going to dramatize some of the main elements of The Capitalist Division of Labour and Work…

17 Mr. Weeds Toys (sole proprietor)

18 HAPPY GO LUCKY TOYS INC.

19 3. The Changing Nature of Employment and Unemployment A decline, both relative and real, in the goods producing sector of the economy since WWII. A decline, both relative and real, in the goods producing sector of the economy since WWII. An increase in the service producing sector of the economy. An increase in the service producing sector of the economy. An increase in self-employment. An increase in self-employment. Growth in part-time employment. Growth in part-time employment.  Individuals working more than one job. cont…

20 …cont  Increased labour-force participation by married women.  Decrease in mean wages for most demographics.  Two-tier wage structures.*  Poor job quality – job-poor growth**  The “hollowing out of the middle class” (larger gap between rich and the poor).** *Belcourt, Bohlander, Snell; Human Resources Management **Burke;Canadian Public Policy in an Age of Global Capitalism cont…

21 Economic insecurity** Economic insecurity** Just-in-time employment for a just-in-time economy** Just-in-time employment for a just-in-time economy** Increase in the number of employment agencies. Increase in the number of employment agencies. What does this all mean? Is there a solution?

22 What does this all mean…. (in a nutshell) Individuals (workers) are forced to enter into a wage relationship with capitalists and endure the cyclical nature of economic growth while balancing infinite attempts to restructure, relocate, and phase out higher paying jobs as capitalists search for profits and competitive advantage. Neo-liberal politics compliments this type of behaviour by capitalists and workers are left to work harder, longer, and for less money than before, or enter the labour force themselves as capitalists which perpetuates the problem. Capitalists are forced to bring cheaper products to the market place in order to facilitate reduced purchasing power and therefore this entire cycle continues to accelerate. Individuals (workers) are forced to enter into a wage relationship with capitalists and endure the cyclical nature of economic growth while balancing infinite attempts to restructure, relocate, and phase out higher paying jobs as capitalists search for profits and competitive advantage. Neo-liberal politics compliments this type of behaviour by capitalists and workers are left to work harder, longer, and for less money than before, or enter the labour force themselves as capitalists which perpetuates the problem. Capitalists are forced to bring cheaper products to the market place in order to facilitate reduced purchasing power and therefore this entire cycle continues to accelerate.

23 4. Dickenson’s Solution “The solution to the problem of unemployment resides in the political realm, and will require a transformation of the interests underpinning economic decision making and resource mobilization and allocation.” “The solution to the problem of unemployment resides in the political realm, and will require a transformation of the interests underpinning economic decision making and resource mobilization and allocation.” Not much of a solution, eh! cont… cont…

24 What’s this guy really suggesting? What about organized labour? Is it dying? (take a look at the handouts) Is unemployment really a problem? (take a look at the handouts) For this last question we conducted a little survey…

25 We surveyed 20 York Region employment agencies (of which there are no less than 50), and posed these questions… We surveyed 20 York Region employment agencies (of which there are no less than 50), and posed these questions… A. Would you say it is more difficult to find work in general, or workers to fill positions? B. Would you say it is more difficult to find quality work (good wage, job security etc.) or quality workers (reputable, responsible, eager to succeed etc.) to fill these positions?

26 Results 5 of the respondence found that there were no discernable differences between either group in either question. Basically they suggested that it was more an issue of time-of-year. 5 of the respondence found that there were no discernable differences between either group in either question. Basically they suggested that it was more an issue of time-of-year. All of the other respondence answered both questions in the same manner, 6 of which replied that work was more difficult to find and the rest (the majority) found that finding workers was indeed most difficult. All of the other respondence answered both questions in the same manner, 6 of which replied that work was more difficult to find and the rest (the majority) found that finding workers was indeed most difficult. So, what does this mean?

27 What about labour unions?

28 Here are some questions to contemplate… Does the decline in private sector unionization reflect anything other than simply a change in the rights and powers of unions as described by Dickenson? Does the decline in private sector unionization reflect anything other than simply a change in the rights and powers of unions as described by Dickenson? Do people reject unionization because maybe the labour market is not that bad after all? Do people reject unionization because maybe the labour market is not that bad after all? Has inequity within unions set in just as the rest of society? Has inequity within unions set in just as the rest of society? Are people no longer feeling the need to bargain collectively? Are people no longer feeling the need to bargain collectively?

29 1. Discussion Questions Dickenson: “Unemployment is appropriately understood as a social issue – and not just as a personal problem” Dickenson: “Unemployment is appropriately understood as a social issue – and not just as a personal problem” According to Stats Canada (refer to handouts) employment is on the rise; according to our survey there is plenty of employment out there; and according to our own experience, employment is not difficult to find? Is this really a social issue or are people just becoming overly selective and unable to adjust to a changing world? According to Stats Canada (refer to handouts) employment is on the rise; according to our survey there is plenty of employment out there; and according to our own experience, employment is not difficult to find? Is this really a social issue or are people just becoming overly selective and unable to adjust to a changing world? Should people focus more on improving their skills and increasing their level of education away from the workplace? Should people focus more on improving their skills and increasing their level of education away from the workplace? Is complacency the real culprit? Is complacency the real culprit?

30 2. Discussion Questions “The solution to the problem of unemployment resides in the political realm, and will require a transformation of the interests underpinning economic decision making and resource mobilization and allocation.” “The solution to the problem of unemployment resides in the political realm, and will require a transformation of the interests underpinning economic decision making and resource mobilization and allocation.” Do you agree with Dickenson’s solution, in that, is it plausible? Do you agree with Dickenson’s solution, in that, is it plausible? What is he suggesting; a radical restructuring of the world economy? What is he suggesting; a radical restructuring of the world economy?

31 Prize Question!!! Dickenson describes Relative reductions in the costs of production as: Dickenson describes Relative reductions in the costs of production as: A - reduction in wage and salary rates/ reducing work hours A - reduction in wage and salary rates/ reducing work hours B – the relationship between capitalists and the working class B – the relationship between capitalists and the working class C - increasing worker productivity/ decreasing cost per unit C - increasing worker productivity/ decreasing cost per unit D – Labour force exclusion D – Labour force exclusion

32 And the answer is…. C - increasing worker productivity/ decreasing cost per unit C - increasing worker productivity/ decreasing cost per unit


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