DEVEL OF SOCI THOUGHT & METHOD
DEVEL OF SOCI THOUGHT & METHOD SOCI 200
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This 5 page Class Notes was uploaded by Dr. Marcos Braun on Saturday September 26, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to SOCI 200 at James Madison University taught by Joseph Spear Jr in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 21 views. For similar materials see /class/214007/soci-200-james-madison-university in Sociology at James Madison University.
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Date Created: 09/26/15
Notes Gathered from the book Illuminating Social Life Edited by Peter Kivisto Used to write Abstract 1 9162008 10600 AM Chapter 1 Working Longer Living Less by John P Walsh and Anne Zacharias Walsh quotYou can be replaced o Corporate America is sending the message that Americans have to be willing to settle for less despite the company s profitability or they will get nothing at all Competition o Competition for investment dollars is also behind capital s continued demands for an increase in the length of the working day o Capital in the form of investment capital is constantly on the look out for a capitalist who is producing surplus value at a greater rate 0 Puts increased pressure on firms to increase surplus value Capitalism o Demands that all firms excel at the exploitation of labor power the production of surplus value 0 Mechanisms for increasing surplus labor The relay system the capitalist can extend the working day to 12 or 15 hours while maintaining the fiction of only using and therefore only paying for 10 hours of the worker s time Part time capitalist buys only a small fraction of the worker s day week year work life but in such a way that the worker is forced to make himself available to the capitalist for the whole of the day Roundtheclock availability Contingent Labor capitalist only relies temporary contract or consulting workers who can replace the fulltime employees with workers whose labor power is used in small fragments with the downtime inherent in most work processes pushed into the worker s ledger Shaving time the company will steal time forcing employees to work for free by clocking out when the company is closed even if employees have to clean up before they can leave Innovation by reducing the amount of necessary labor time capitalists can double the productivity of labor Demands of Capital o Capital to Marx the objectified embodiment of past labor dead labor and its value can only be brought to life when living labor is applied to it 0 An idle factory idle capital produces no surplus Whenever capital sits idle it represents a loss to the capitalist what the economists calls opportunity cost Capital is deal labour which vampire like lives only by sucking living labour and lives more the more labour it sucks Marx As the size of the capital outlay increases over time the size of the vampire demanding living labor becomes increasingly enormous Its cries to be fed become increasingly irresistible The demands on workers to be more productive become more incessant and insistent because the stakes are higher Capitalist production therefore drives by its inherent nature toward the appropriation of labour throughout the whole of the 24 hours in the day Marx O 9 Even when a company is nowhere near the verge of collapse human needs and hardships are eclipsed by the fact that there are even greater profits out there to be made o Since these actions are demanded by the logic of capital no one is exempt from being called on to work extraordinary hours if the company is in need Marx argues that it was capitalism s need for continuous production that gave rise to the shift system in production under which some portion of the populace is forced to live on a schedule that effectively cuts them out of participation in most aspects of society Despite the fact that workers in the 1990s were already protesting the move to 12hour shifts 12 hours was often the minimum amount of time they were required to work o Despite the obvious toll continuous production takes on human lives several factors make it the only logical practice under the laws of capitalism 0 Machinery must be valorized quickly because it quickly becomes obsolete resulting in a loss of value for the capitalist Fear of obsolescence then drives the capitalist to run his factories 24 hours a day to get as much use as possible from his machines before they no longer produce at the socially necessary rate Continuous production allows the capitalist to take advantage of supersurplus that comes from innovation and to overcome the declining rate of profit that comes from an increase in constant capital Mechanization provides not only the rationale for continuous production by also a builtin defense mechanism against worker opposition Replacing employees with machines creates a surplus army of unemployed workers who stand at the ready to take the jobs of those who resist the capitalist s increasing demands 0 O O 9 The insatiable drive to extend the working day is significant beyond the fact of its inhumanity It reveals a fundamental transformation that takes place under capitalism o Machinery sweeps away every moral and natural restriction on the length of the working day o The economic paradox the most powerful instrument for reducing labortime suffers a dialectical inversion and becomes the most unfailing means for turning the whole lifetime of the worker and his family into labortime at capital s disposal for its own valorization 0 New production technology might reduce the burden of labor but it also increasingly demands longer days and faster work pace Under capitalism the Qroduction processI once intended to serve humans needsI has become entirely indifferent to them o Human beings now serve the needs of capital PCI 31 Saying that work is taking over our lives and that we should reorganize the economv to but limits on work and reemphasize family and communitv while given so much lip service is rarelv acknowledged as an argument that should seriouslv be followed Indeed as we have shown the amount of time Americans soend on the iob has increased steadily and laws limiting the working day have come under attack at the same time family values has emerded as the mantra for politicians hooind to take or hold office o Objects now hold mastery over human beings o Some people say that We are in the era of the job culture 0 The social spheres of work and home have changed places 0 Home previously a place of comfort acceptance and personal support now has become the site of stress routinization and irresolvable conflicts o Work now offers the possibilities of success rewards and adult friendship and has therefore taken on more of the positive aspects of home o Depression divorce heart disease hypertension drug and alcohol abuse ulcers and stress are all common side effects of working long or rotating hours o American society has become more isolated and alien with people increasingly forgoing participation in community life As the data on increasing work hours and more uncertain work shifts show there has been an increase in time pressure on American workers during the past two decades Participation in community life suffers as capital extends its reach over ever more of the workers waking hours Marx Capitalism is the source of unprecedented wealth and the engine of fantastic innovation yet it is also a system that hinges on exploitation inequality and misery The very nature of a capitalist economy demands such behavior on the part of the owners of the capital longer working days less pay etc These contradictions lead to both economic and political struggles and the two cannot be separated The working day is a significant locus of worker resistance throughout the history of capitalism Capitalism is a constant search for news ways of generating surplus Capitalism is a production system based on value production It is this insight that is central to understanding the dynamics of capitalism