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Workers and Machines: Dimensions and Determinants of Technical Relations in the Workplace

James N. Baron and William T. Bielby
American Sociological Review
Vol. 47, No. 2 (Apr., 1982), pp. 175-188
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2094961
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Workers and Machines: Dimensions and Determinants of Technical Relations in the Workplace
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Abstract

This paper examines the relationship between work organization and stratification processes, specifically, the dimensions and determinants of workers' technical roles. Four dimensions of worker-technology relations emphasized in previous research are analyzed: skill and variety, diversity, technical interdependence, and control over work pacing. We find pervasive gender differences in the forces affecting worker-machine relations: ascriptive characteristics and schooling are more decisive for women; and, because there is a more rigid differentiation among women's technical roles, occupational and job characteristics exert a greater influence on relations to machines and technology than is the case for male workers. Results indicate that individual attributes minimally affect workers' positions within the technical division of labor; factors governing the organization of jobs and firms are more decisive. The implications of these results for theoretical debates and future research concerning work and inequality are discussed.

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