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May 1, 2018 / C H Thompson

Deskilling thesis

  • Marxists such as argue Braverman (1974) mass production processes alienates, degrades and deskills the worker
  • Braverman identified deskilling as a mechanism through which the owners of the means of production could control workers to increase profits by reducing labour costs
  • an advantage for deskilling employees is deskilled workers are cheaper to replace than skilled ones
  • computerisation is increasingly exacerbating this problem as much more car production is conducted by robots
  • also internet banking has reduced the need for bank clerks;
  • and supermarket barcodes have eliminated the need for workers to be competent at arithmetic
  • deskilling has also impacted on established professions
  • for example Frey and Osborne (2013) predict professions like lawyers, doctors and accountants are being broken down into their component parts via the increasing use of online algorithms allowing apps to create online self-help services providing a diagnoses
  • Bynjolfsson and McFee (2014) argue artificial intelligence ‘is doing for mental power what the steam engine did for physical power

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