Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital tapped into a late twentieth century sense that work while appearing ever safer, cleaner and more automated, was actually, less skilled, more controlled, and more intensive. For Braverman the general movement in work in the twentieth century had been towards degradation of skill and worker control, devoid of creative technical content and thought. Braverman’s monumental book drew on Marx’s writings on technology and the labour process, for the conditions of American capitalism in the 1970s. He provoked such heated debate that the term ‘Bravermania’ has entered the sociological lexicon. His analysis on the labour process in late modernity has seen scholars of organization, work and society at loggerheads over an array of issues. While some writers have attacked Braverman for underplaying the potential for worker resistance, others have defended his analysis as more nuanced and ultimately true to its Marxist inheritance. These debates, which continue to this day on both sides of the Atlantic, but as the paper demonstrates, there has been a movement away from some of the grander themes of Labor and Monopoly Capital (the state, the class structure, the universal market) towards a narrow focus on skill. But there has also been a widening of debates, with new themes (embodiment of labour, globalization, heightened mobility of labour, fragmentation of employment contracts, and spatial division of labour) which has moved labour process theory on and continued to rejuvenate discussion around the control and direction of work that Braverman helped to initiate.
- : capitalism; labour process; labour power; labour mobility; labour effort; management control