Books About Work
| Peter Klein |
I blogged earlier about Matthew Crawford, whose book Shop Class as Soulcraft challenges our commonly held beliefs about white- and blue-collar work. In a feature in Saturday’s WSJ Crawford listed his five favorite books about work. It’s an unusual list: Harry Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital, Alasdair MacIntyre’s After Virtue, Arlie Russell Hochschild’s The Managed Heart, Richard Sennett’s The Corrosion of Character, and Mike Rose’s The Mind at Work. After Virtue, for example, is well-known as an outstanding work in contemporary moral philosophy, but Crawford sees it in a different light:
Alasdair MacIntyre shows that the manager, that stock character in modern institutional life, is a moral relativist by stipulation — it’s just part of the job. Unlike an entrepreneur, a hired manager must accept the ends of an organization as given — as unavailable for rational scrutiny. His task is to adjust others, and indeed himself, to the realization of those ends, by whatever means are effective. As the business section of any chain bookstore confirms, what is wanted are therapeutic techniques of “self transformation”; the manager becomes a sort of institutional pop psychologist.
What are your favorite books (and articles) about the workplace? Besides Dilbert. I’m partial to Donald Roy’s 1952 classic, “Quota Restriction and Goldbricking in a Machine Shop.”