BY THE SWEAT OF THY BROW: Men, Women and Work in the Western World by Melvin & Joseph Gies Kranzberg

BY THE SWEAT OF THY BROW: Men, Women and Work in the Western World

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In less than two hundred pages the authors go from the pyramids to cybernetics, in this superficial and rather textbookish survey of how men and women have used muscle and machine. Technological advance and the continuous refinement of Adam Smith's division of labor provide the stepping stones for the transition from the simplest hunting and farming economies to the Manchester factory, Henry Ford's assembly line, the suprarational excesses of Taylorism, and today's fully automated industrial systems, Much of the book simply explains technological innovation: the stirrup, the wheeled plow, the cross-ribbed vault, double entry bookkeeping, the cotton gin, the ""flying shuttle,"" the power loom, the computer. Each mechanical breakthrough affected the organization of the workers who gradually left their fields and cottages for the factory, losing control of their tools and the products of their labor. In the last section .of the book the authors show some concern for today's worker alienation and the degradation of man to machine. They come close to predicting that in the future the old work hierarchy based on a pyramidical chain of command will be replaced by a new organizational structure which will resemble the human nervous system. ""Participatory democracy"" will once more restore pride in craftsmanship and the plant will become a more fulfilling place to work -- maybe. Rather simplistic and very old hat.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Putnam