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Abstract

Divergent conceptualizations of the recent changes in work organization that have accompanied computerization include neo-Bravermanian analyses, postindustrial analyses, and contingency analyses. To make sense of these differing views, the paper surveys sociological research on computerization and its impact on three analytically separate dimensions of the workplace: organizational restructuring, changes in worker skill, and power and authority relationships. The review reveals that computerized work organizations typically have fewer hierarchical levels, a bifurcated workforce, frequently with race and sex segregation, a less formal structure, and diminished use of internal labor markets and reliance instead on external credentialing. Variable patterns of centralization and decentralization occur, and workplace power relationships interact with technological change to produce variable political outcomes. With regard to worker skills, recent evidence suggests aggregate upskilling with some deskilling and skill bifurcation. Future research should more closely analyze the process of technological design and implementation.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.141
1998-08-01
2024-07-19
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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.soc.24.1.141
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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