Saturday, February 10, 2007

The Industrial Revolution and Worker Satisfaction

Ergonomics and worker satisfaction ...

"Ergonomics is not just about how comfortable our chairs are…it’s about how we feel everyday at work and how our work affects our lives. The Industrial Age (followed by the Information Age) has brought us many things that would never have been possible without highly organized labor and methods of production. But has it really brought us happiness, or is ‘progress’ dependent on (at least for some), dehumanizing work devoid of personal fulfillment?

In his study of society during the Industrial Revolution, Marx observed the trajectory of economic forces facilitating the rise of capitalism, a system evoking images from Fritz Lang’s film, Metropolis, in which organized production reduces workers to mere cogs in the wheel of the machine, estranging them from their own destinies.

Unfortunately, the complex organization, depersonalization and alienation in society of which Marx wrote is still a reality in contemporary society. Most people today accept direction from authority and hierarchical divisions of labor and power, even though it causes frustration, miscommunication and inefficiency.

On the other hand, formal rules, hierarchy and specialized labor were the main management tools that enabled the enormous amount of technological progress made from the Industrial Revolution through the first half of the 20th century. Transnational railroads and highways were made possible by central planning and standardized procedures carried out by specialized labor delegated by hierarchy of authority."    (Continued via Ergonomenon)    [Ergonomics Resources]

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