This week, we will specifically examine Harry Braverman´s critique of scientific

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Oct 15, 2021


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This week, we will specifically examine Harry Braverman´s critique of scientific management as a foundation for the broader process of capitalist development in the United States. From the start, Braverman clearly defines Taylorism, not as the result of technological advances, that is, not based on the technical transformations of the workplace, but, as he argued “Taylorism belongs to the chain of development of management methods and the organization of labor and not the development of technology, in which its role was minor.”(85) This is important if we are to fully comprehend the overreaching influence of modern capitalist society. In Braverman´s view, Taylorism is more about creating mechanisms of control of the labor force and the alienation of the working class, as a means of maximizing the surplus value of labor, a method which continues to the present day, even if many refuse to admit it. Braverman argued, “If Taylorism does not exist as a separate school today, that is because apart from the bad odor of its name, it is no longer the property of a faction since its fundamental teachings have become the bedrock of all work designs.”(87) I cannot stress enough that the fundamental objective of Taylorism is more about control and alienation than workplace efficiency, whereas the author pointed out, “[control] assumed unprecedented dimensions.”(90)
Braverman´s critique of Taylor´s “Principles” clearly identifies the underlying objectives of scientific management. The control of past knowledge, once accumulated by workers, in the hands of managers, consolidates the fragmentation of the work process, which the author, defines as the “dissociation of the labor process from the skills of the worker.” (113). The exclusion of intellectual work (brain work) from the workplace and into the hands exclusively of management consolidates what Braverman defined as “the separation of conception from execution” (114) which is essential to weaken working-class power. Finally, the distinction of scientific management from previous methods of workplace organization is the acknowledgment of the essential role that the monopoly of knowledge exerts in workplace organization. An essential implication of Braverman´s argument is that “The use of this monopoly over knowledge to control each step of the labor process and its mode of execution” (119) provides the wherewithal for power relations, not just in the workplace, but political power in society as well. As we will see in our future discussions, Taylorism has been continuously adapted and readapted to the modern workplace and continues to provide the fundamental framework for modern work relations.
Harry_Braverman_Labor_and_Monopoly_Capit-1.pdf Download Harry_Braverman_Labor_and_Monopoly_Capit-1.pdf
After reading the assigned texts, please answer the questions below:
Explains Braverman´s statement that Taylorism “…starts, despite occasional protestations to the contrary, not from the human point of view but from the capitalist point of view, from the point of view of management of a refractory workforce in a setting of antagonistic social relations.”
What is Braverman´s critique of Taylor´s notion of “a fair day’s work”?
What does Braverman argue are the implications of Taylor´s “Principles” for the emergence and consolidation of modern management?


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