It is no secret that within the labor there are extreme gaps between genders, socioeconomic status, and levels of education. The biggest of these factors is the wide gender gap in pay, position, and in workforce. According to valuable research, gender segregation within the labor market is due to gendered and discriminatory assumptions and practices. The appearance of class not only works within the labor market, but also works against it, as many workers apply discriminatory measures to get ahead. The structure of the working class has transform from the white male industry into a more diverse market since the transition from the Fordism era to capitalistic driven society that requires more skills to get ahead. Within this essay I will relate my personal labor experience to the class reading provided by Thomas Dunk (2002), “Remaking the Working Class: Experience, Class Consciousness, and the Industrial Adjustment Process.”
The history of gender labor has dates back to the formation of an industrial society where women stayed in the home and men went off to work. As the society developed further women begin to leave their roles inside the some to join the workforce with their male counterparts. However, they soon learn that gender played a major determining factor in the amount of pay, the number of hired, and the types of position that seemed to be only regulated to the men. The working class men has evolved since the industrial days of the revolution that brought plenty of factories and different industries to the North American. Through history the society has changed from the Fordism area to a more capital centric society that has changed the class structure, the social structure, and the more importantly the male labor market. As Dunk suggest the transition to the regime has undertook developments on the economic, political, and cultural fronts. (Dunk, 2002, pg.1) In regards to the changes on the economic level it has downsized the workforce, closed down plants, and exploited the labor with new production strategies and techniques. To understand the changes that have affected the labor market it is best to look at the effects that the transition from the Fordism era to capitalist society. This theory explains the transition from a relatively white male industry to a more diverse industry comprise of men and women from various cultures, race and ethnicities, and social classes. According to Dunk on the political level, “the shrinkage of the male industrial working class has contributed to the further marginalization within the Western nations of communist, socialist, and social democratic ideas (Sassoon 1996: 730-754)” (Dunk, 2002, pg.2) The transition in the society has left the government to aim for promoting flexibility within the labor market and retracted the social wage in regards to welfare, insurance for unemployment, and public pensions. These changes have left the workers exposed to vulnerabilities in the market while simultaneously prohibiting their rights to resist these changes and organize to fight them. (pg.2) The cultural aspect of the society is the return to the conservative education values of reading, writing, and arithmetic that promote more education for the labor market.
There are many that are affected from these changes that have taken place in the labor market, but none that have been truly affected in a slightly negative way are the white, male, industrial workers of the Fordism era. Since World War II, they have enjoyed the benefits of being able to earn high wages on a relatively low educational background, while being able to rise within the ranks even without the required skills. This discriminatory practice in the past had contributed to the growing number of women and minorities that were left in minimal wage jobs, are in positions that didn’t earn them same wages are benefits as their white male counterparts. The Fordism era brought the theory of mass consumption and mass production that is evident in the Dunk piece with the workers from the mill factory that until the Post-Fordism era enjoyed the comfortability of their privilege economic positions. In contrast to today, the capitalist society has allowed workers such as myself with a college education to work for $14 an hour as a sales associate. Not only is the team workers diverse, but also are different ages, different educational levels, and come from different backgrounds. Unlike the works of the mill factory who are all male and white, there is only one white male with various works duties. However in the dominant positions that are comprised of one manager, and two manager assistants they are all white. The rest of them team is comprised of women of various cultures and ethnicities. This is unlike the reading,
In general their workforce shrunk during Post-Fordism, this can be contributed to a number of factors besides the end to Fordism which include technological advancements that made mass production and mass consumption faster at other factories. (Bunk, 2002, pg. 4) While the workers enjoyed the economic and work stability during the 1950s to the late 1970s, they hit difficulties in the 1980’s that were due in part to the way in which the US based multinational unions were operating. The workers of the mill factories were left to look for jobs in the transformed 90s labor market. The jobs available weren’t unlike jobs of the past that in the market for noncredentialed workers, the jobs needed required skills to work within the service-oriented economy. The changing working industry has restructured the working class in terms of ethnicity, gender, and region. In this respect this is true and has steadily sought to change the old boy’s club of the labor market in North America.
While the information has proven that new jobs required more skills and more positions are opened for women and minorities, the old strategy remains the same that those in the dominant positions are male or white. In the case of my personal experience out of the nineteen employees hired there was only one white male, but in the dominant positions they were still white. The labor market is still racially segregated according to Hamilton, Austin, and Darity Jr on the account of nearly 7 out of 8 major occupations are racially segregated. (Hamilton, Austin, Darity Jr, 2011, pg.1) White males still take precedence in leadership positions, only 16 percent of corporate seats account for women, according to surveys conducted by Fortune 500 (Fisher, 2013). While this percentage may seem small compared to the Fordism era it is a tremendous improvement in terms of women equality. As a college educated individual that is still relatively young, I can identify with the new class that is focused on acquiring the skills needed to succeed in this capital driven society. Working for Michael Kors I am privy to earning a nice hourly wage compared to other jobs, although I have to compete with my fellow peers to meet my quota, and receive benefits. If it wasn’t for the change in the labor movement for more equality than it will still be driven by the old boy’s club. Dunk provides the synthesis that the displaced workers of the mill factory must now have to retrain and reeducate themselves in order to transition along with the change in economic front. According to Dunk, “the explicit concern of governments and employers is with the culture, often dubbed “skills” of the labor force” (Dunk, 2002, pg. 6). The change in the society has provided the change in the labor force.
The Fordist era of Henry Ford brought a society that focused on providing jobs that were relatively low skilled, or skilled centric to the industry in which was built on mass consumption and mass production. From the 1950s to the 1980s, the white male industrial workers sat economically sound in their positions, but the change to capitalism displaced most workers and changed the working class. No longer was it exclusively limited to white males, but now available for women and minorities. Through time the working class has shifted, however there is still ways to go as the gap between leadership is still limited to white males, the working class is steadily improving as more young skilled workers are being introduced into the workforce.
Austin, Algnernon, Hamilton, Darrick, Darity Jr., William. (2011). Whiter Jobs, Higher Wages: Occupational Segregation and the Lower Wages of Black Men. Economic Policy Institute. Retrieved from http://www.epi.org/publication/whiter_jobs_higher_wages/
Dunk, Thomas. (2002). Remaking the Working Class: Experience, Class Consciousness, and the Industrial Adjustment Process. American Ethnologist 29(4): 878 – 900.
Fisher, Anne. (2013). Why Are There Still So Few Women in Top Leadership Jobs? Fortune. Retrieved from http://management.fortune.cnn.com/2013/01/17/why-are-there-still-so-few-women-in-top-leadership-jobs/