ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Braverman’s Legacy

Degraded Labour, Automation and Information Technology in the Era of Globalisation

Capitalism has countered the possibility of organised labour’s opposition to the deskilling and degradation of labour in terms of wages and labour power. This has occurred due to the implementation of global information technology and the imposition of international policies that ensure the free movement of capital and, to a lesser degree, the free movement of labour. This article attempts to explore, through the lens of Harry Braverman’s seminal work, the idea that skill degradation is not about the replacement of total aggregate labour by automation, but rather one of the means by which capital ensures that there is continued division and internal conflict of labour itself within and between national borders, and that labour competes with automated systems in terms of profitability.

An earlier version of this article was presented at the 36th Annual Conference of the International Working Party on Labour Market Segregation, Panteion University, Athens, Greece, 22–24 June 2015.The author would like to thank the referee of this essay for their valuable insights and critique.

In memory of Somnath Zutshi: “Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be …”


Harry Braverman’s (1975) seminal work Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century is perhaps more important than ever in the current rapidly advancing developments in the field of robotics, information technology (IT) and computerisation. Yet, there has been little debate or research in these matters by Indian and foreign scholars. It is only recently that we are seeing the beginning of some discussion in the West about the onset of what could possibly be a truly epochal series of events over the past decade.

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Updated On : 19th Jul, 2019
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