Cover for Resnikoff: Labor's End: How the Promise of Automation Degraded Work. Click for larger image

Labor's End

How the Promise of Automation Degraded Work

Seeing automation as an ideology instead of a technology

Labor's End traces the discourse around automation from its origins in the factory to its wide-ranging implications in political and social life. As Jason Resnikoff shows, the term automation expressed the conviction that industrial progress meant the inevitable abolition of manual labor from industry. But the real substance of the term reflected industry's desire to hide an intensification of human work--and labor's loss of power and protection--behind magnificent machinery and a starry-eyed faith in technological revolution. The rhetorical power of the automation ideology revealed and perpetuated a belief that the idea of freedom was incompatible with the activity of work. From there, political actors ruled out the workplace as a site of politics while some of labor's staunchest allies dismissed sped-up tasks, expanded workloads, and incipient deindustrialization in the name of technological progress.

A forceful intellectual history, Labor's End challenges entrenched assumptions about automation's transformation of the American workplace.

"Resnikoff's forceful and coherent argument reveals that automation was not a technological process but an ideology which equated freedom with freedom from work and downplayed the workplace as a site of politics. As he convincingly shows, automation largely did not lead to a reduction in labor but rather to speedup, work intensification, and the degradation of labor, creating a huge chasm between the grandiose claims made about an automated future and the lived reality of workers."--Joshua Freeman, author of Behemoth: A History of the Factory and the Making of the Modern World


Jason Resnikoff is a lecturer in the Department of History at Columbia University.

To order online:
//www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/25bhr3bd9780252044250.html

To order by phone:
(800) 621-2736 (USA/Canada)
(773) 702-7000 (International)

Related Titles

previous book next book
Dockworker Power - Cover
Dockworker Power

Race and Activism in Durban and the San Francisco Bay Area

Peter Cole

A Matter of Moral Justice - Cover
A Matter of Moral Justice

Black Women Laundry Workers and the Fight for Justice

Jenny Carson

Labor’s Mind - Cover
Labor’s Mind

A History of Working-Class Intellectual Life

Tobias Higbie

Upon the Altar of Work - Cover
Upon the Altar of Work

Child Labor and the Rise of a New American Sectionalism

Betsy Wood

Disruption in Detroit - Cover
Disruption in Detroit

Autoworkers and the Elusive Postwar Boom

Daniel J. Clark

The World in a City - Cover
The World in a City

Multiethnic Radicalism in Early Twentieth-Century Los Angeles

David M. Struthers

Union Renegades - Cover
Union Renegades

Miners, Capitalism, and Organizing in the Gilded Age

Dana M. Caldemeyer

The Labor Board Crew - Cover
The Labor Board Crew

Remaking Worker-Employer Relations from Pearl Harbor to the Reagan Era

Ronald W. Schatz

Workers against the City - Cover
Workers against the City

The Fight for Free Speech in Hague v. CIO

Donald W. Rogers

Grand Army of Labor - Cover
Grand Army of Labor

Workers, Veterans, and the Meaning of the Civil War

Matthew E. Stanley

Labor Justice across the Americas - Cover
Labor Justice across the Americas

Edited by Leon Fink and Juan Manuel Palacio

American Unemployment - Cover
American Unemployment

Past, Present, and Future

Frank Stricker

Black Flag Boricuas - Cover
Black Flag Boricuas

Anarchism, Antiauthoritarianism, and the Left in Puerto Rico, 1897-1921

Kirwin R. Shaffer

Workers in Hard Times - Cover
Workers in Hard Times

A Long View of Economic Crises

Edited by Leon Fink, Joseph A. McCartin, and Joan Sangster

Frontiers of Labor - Cover
Frontiers of Labor

Comparative Histories of the United States and Australia

Edited by Greg Patmore and Shelton Stromquist

Women Have Always Worked - Cover
Women Have Always Worked

A Concise History

Alice Kessler-Harris