In the closing years of the 19 th century, office clerks and secretaries in the USA and Great Britain were almost always male (Cohn 1985; Davies 1975; Lowe 1980, 1986).
Offices were typically small, entrepreneurial enterprises with young men serving as “right-hand men” to business owners. Office clerks were “all-round” workers handling all phases of an assignment, organising and executing it. Clerks often had extended responsibilities that would be seen as managerial today.
The organisation of work meant that the work allowed the clerk to develop skills and to be identified as a skilled craftsmen, a professional or even have an equal role to that of management. Control was based on dependent and internal motivation with clerks who were few in number working in close proximity to their employer. The work of the clerk and employer was closely linked as the clerk made it possible for the employer to carry out a lot of their business. Close personal relationships were built that were based on mutual loyalty, obligation and identification with one another. As organisations grew in size, the increase in clerical work meant face to face controls were impossible which brought more formal ways of control and more supervision of clerks according to rules.
The rise of large scale national organisations in the early 20 th century brought an increasing demand for clerical services and national companies established central admin offices with large amounts of clerical staff. The second half of the twentieth century was marked by a great increase in women’s participation in the labour market including a rapid rise in labour force participation among married women. One of the reasons for this change was a transformation in the nature of labour demand. The rapid development of the service sector in the early part of the 20 th century produced great increases in the demand for clerical workers. This office work offered more respectable higher status work than previously held manufacturing or domestic work.
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It also offered the chance for many middle class women to work for the first time as domestic and manufacturing work had been seen to be undignified and it brought great prestige to women as office work required education. White collar work offered safe, clean and respectable work for many women. The pay was relatively good compared to other jobs available to women with a high school education and there were also chances of promotion available in some white collar jobs. The historical role played by this feminization in clerical work seems to be a contradiction as at first it offered aspirations to bourgeois status, but as white collar work became more feminized it correlated highly with lower wage levels. Occupational feminization is associated with a decline in that occupation’s social status and is the trend for women to move into occupations which were formerly dominated by men. Many studies have documented that clerical work went from being men’s work to being culturally defined as “female” within the space of a few decades early in the century.
The proportion of clerical workers that were female rose from fifteen percent in 1890 to over 50% in 1930. (Goldin, 1990) As this sector opened open to women in the early 20 th century more women sought higher and further education. Women became better-educated in order to gain the skills and credentials to enter the white-collar sector meaning that when employers faced a shortage of clerical workers in the 1950 s there existed a ready supply of high school-educated women whose labour was cheaper than their male counterparts. However employers exploited the fact that women’s work has a lower socio-economic value than male work. Evidence from studies on office workers in the 1930 s and 1940 s show that women were paid less than men for clerical work. The 1940 Worker survey, which was collected for Philadelphia evaluated the earnings for 1, 2000 individuals in clerical work with 700 women and 500 men.
The Term Paper on Nutritional Status of Male and Female Children in Rural Bangladesh: a Comparative Study on Tentultala Village of Khulna District
Nutritional Status of Male and Female Children in Rural Bangladesh: A Comparative Study on Tentultala Village of Khulna District Sajal Kanti Roy Department of Sociology, University of Dhaka Abstract: It is found from considerable evidence that malnutrition affects human performance, health and survival, including physical growth, morbidity, mortality, cognitive development, reproduction, physical ...
The evidence showed that there was an indistinguishable gap in earnings between male and female clerks but however a gap did occur and increase with every year of experience. “Each year of total experience augmented male earnings more than female earnings, so that a male who changed jobs after five years of employment earned 11% more for his years prior work than a female.” Though at first glance the introduction of women into this sector of employment did offer higher status that previous manufacturing jobs this status seemed to decline with the feminisation process. As occupational feminization is associated with a decline in that occupation’s social status and is the trend for women to move into occupations which were formerly dominated by men, this evidence supports Baldry at al’s quote that white-collar work has become progressively feminized and stripped of its early attendant aspirations to bourgeois status. Lowe (1986) wrote: “Nineteenth-century office routines are often portrayed as craft-like work. The traditional male bookkeeper was an experienced generalist who at any given moment could report to his boss on the state of the business. But with industrial expansion and increasingly complex business dealings, the rise of large-scale office bureaucracy after 1900 wrought fundamental changes in the division of administrative labour.
The mounting volume of routine work induced employers to hire women largely because they could be paid much less than men. As the scope of administration widened, the focus of individual clerical tasks narrowed. By the 1920 s, the generalist male bookkeeper had become a relic of the past in most large offices, succeeded by teams of female functionaries monotonously processing financial data with the aid of machines.” (Lowe 1986: 194) This quote summarises why the feminisation and routinization of office work occurred. The increase in size of occupations and the rise in office bureaucracy are major causes in the routinization and deskilling of white-collar work. Office work has had to be sub-divided to manage more easily therefore producing more standardised, inflexible routine work to ensure that each sub-division fits together. This sub-division leads to workers possessing less over-view of the total work process making it more impersonal with a lack of first hand contact with their employer.
Smith 10/12/2000 ENGL 1102 McDermott Satisfying The short story "Orientation" by Daniel Orozco and the poem "Naming of Parts" by Henry Reed both show a teacher giving instructions. In "Naming of Parts" the teacher enthusiastically describes the different parts of a gun, while comparing this to the beauty of nature in his or her mind. "Orientation" is a story about an office worker who starts a new ...
The routinization of tasks means that there is less need for personal judgement and initiative therefore making clerks more easily replaceable which also lowers the status of their role within the organization. Experience used to be of great importance when it came to carrying out office work. Clerks knew their employer well and were trusted to look after a large amount of the workload. The expansion of the administrative work of businesses in the early 20 th century brought the use of scientific management techniques into offices, as well as innovations in office technology. The introduction and rapid spread of the typewriter around 1900 brought the new job category of typist. This quickly became a female occupation as women were believed to have high manual dexterity, and to be willing to perform repetitive activities and to be closely monitored.
Women were segregated into these routinized areas of clerical tasks as well as being segregated from the men so that they would not envy their more interesting work. The standardization of work practices within the office also means that work can be monitored more easily. As a lot of work follows the same routine in the office environment supervisors can regulate workers simply by observing their movements. Often the arrangements of desks can facilitate managements control by be able to simply look to see if workers are doing their assigned tasks at a glance. When visual supervision is not always possible often clerks have to record their daily routine in a desk manual detailing duties.
For nearly three years, one of the main activities of the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) has been to conduct a campaign for "reasonable working hours." It commenced with a survey completed in October 1999, which linked the sharp increase in working hours over the past two decades with stress-related illnesses and workplace accidents. Apart from occasional media releases, the "campaign" ...
Working for Lloyds TSB I encountered the daily task of writing on a sheet of paper how many items of post I had opened and even had to account for the five minutes it took to hand out post to the different departments. This does not display a great deal of trust between the employer and employee and strips the employee’s role of any value and status. The increased use of technology within white-collar work has introduced a tighter control over workers. New technology meant that clerks had to handle information in a standardised and regularized form due to the use of one specific computer network within an organisation meaning all information and activities must be coded in the same format. This brings little discretion or autonomy on how workers carry out their tasks due to the need for them to be completed in this standardised, routinized way. Technology is also increasingly used to control workers by monitoring their input.
Organisations especially call centres are increasingly raising targets and expectations for employees regarding output, accuracy and speed. There are often pressures due to competition, which leads to organisational obsession with targets. Therefore measurement of output is increasingly used and forms a basis for intensifying work. The examples used in the chapter ‘Bright Satanic Offices’ in Thompson and Warhurst’s ‘Workplaces of the future’s hows just how extensive this monitoring can be. In the case study of the State Office all clerks have their number of waiting calls monitored as well as number of calls taken per operator and their average duration. This use of technology has de personalised and routinized white-collar work as well as lowering the occupations status.
Technology has also lowered the skills necessary to be able to carry out a number of office tasks, which were once quite complex involving a great deal of knowledge and understanding but are now routine and simple. Old skills have also been made trivial and opportunities to develop new skills have been reduced. Traditional office work such as stenography and book-keeping which required extensive training are now displaced and simplified. Skills now needed in the office environment are more mechanical and lower level such as typing or photocopying. An example of how this change in skills has occurred can be seen in the job of on approval clerk in an insurance company. The job formerly consisted of answering queries about claims from field representatives.
Choosing a career is a very important aspect to people's lives. One goes to college, usually around the age of eighteen, and by the time they leave they are expected to have decided on the career that they will have for the rest of their lives. Being a psychology and interpersonal communication major, I have always had an interest on relationships between individuals given certain stimuli ...
Each clerk specialized in one type of policy and had a full knowledge and understanding of the contract, practices and processing of claims. This system has since been computerised so that the field representative can receive answers from a computer terminal. The clerk only gets involved in the process if a question is rejected by the computer and their role is not to help with the customers query but to discover the reason for the error. This is an example of how clerical work has become routinized, technical and completely standardized with new employees being able to learn the routine within a few days.
Many workers today complain about having to do routine, repetitive tasks, which lack stimulation and creates a great deal of strain. The strain of routine jobs is demonstrated by the need for patience in many of these roles. A twenty-one-year-old typist in Word processing stated; “You need a lot of patience. You need to be more or less good-natured, easy going.
Sometimes the tension gets really bad. Some people look on it as boring. If you go on saying, ‘Oh God, another day!’ you wouldn’t last too long.” This shows how unrewarding office work has become due to routinization, which shows how white-collar work has become stripped of its early attendant aspirations to bourgeois status. “Secretaries, clerks and bureaucrats were once grateful for having been spared the dehumanization of the factory… they had higher status than blue collar workers. Bt today the clerk…
is the typical Amercian worker… and such positions offer little in the way of prestige… imparting to the clerical worker the same impersonality that blue-collar workers experience in the factory.” (HEW 1973: 38) Theorists have commented on the move of clerical work away from the status of bourgeois as early as the middle of the twentieth century. Mills wrote of the proletarian ization of clerical work defining it as “a shift in middle-class occupations towards wage workers, in terms of: income, property, skill, prestige or power, irrespective of whether or not the people involved are aware of these changes.” (Mills, 1956: 295) This is argued to occur as white collar work loses the characteristics it once had such as work autonomy and discretion, focus on mental work i. e.
What is property, what is capital in their present form For the capitalist and the property owner they mean the power and the right, guaranteed by the State, to live without working. And since neither property nor capital produces anything when not fertilized by labor - that means the power and the right to live by exploiting the work of someone else, the right to exploit the work of those who ...
reliance on worker’s judgement, high status and personalised relationships within the office environment. “Our modern clerical worker’s labour process is characterised by the low task discretion, specified performance targets, visual and electronic surveillance and low-trust relations associated with Taylor ised work, so has she has lost the ability to control her environment.” (Baldry, Bain and Taylor, 165) This can be compared to the typical model of a male office worker in the late 19 th century in which work involved a great deal of autonomy, task discretion and trust and as Baldry, Bain and Taylor wrote “his social status was an ambivalent mix of salaried labourer and aspirant bourgeois.” It seems that white collar work especially clerical work today is just as repetitive involving similar tasks, but it is the increase of control by employers and management that has changed the nature of the work so that it is ‘stripped of its early aspirations to bourgeois status’. Today there are so many people on the labour market with the adequate skills for such work that each white-collar worker is more easily replaceable therefore not seen as having a high status within the office environment. It could also be said that as the patterns of work have changed with less people staying in the one job or role for their working career, that the working relationship has had to undergo change. This means that employers especially of large corporate organisations can not be as dependent on staff as they once used to be and therefore such employees may not be as valued. Bibliography Bradley, H.
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