Leading article, February 2007. Social engendering of the productive techniques and intellectual content of paid work

The many changes of January can be gathered under the topic: "social engendering of the productive techniques and intellectual content of paid work". The researchs exposed in the texts put on line aimed to know if the tools and the machines intervened or not in the evolution of the intellectual content of the work of the wage earners which had to use them and to maintain them. With this intention, it was necessary first of all to reconstitute the process of design, the installation and the transformation of the tools and of the machines, and then to analyze the various types of observed work organization.

Three types of texts will be found. First of all, some texts presenting the results of the investigations: The tool-tests and the design of the new underground trains, The expert systems: experiments and reflections, The "development" of the expert systems in enterprise, Design of the industrial equipment and work of maintenance, The evolution of the job classification system in the maintenance workshops of RATP. One can add other investigations, aiming at the same goal, which were put on line the previous months: Social engendering of choices of automation and of organization. The case of the railways switches, Self analysing machines?, The automation of the automobile assembly. Technical, organisational, administrative and social designs. Divergences and conditions of coherence, The organisational and social content of the technical choices: the case of the design of automated lines at BSN, Choices of automation, productive efficiency and work content, Work and automation in the railways, Evolution of the content and of the organization of machining work, The Uddevalla plant in the trajectory of Volvo, The transformations of team work at Renault.

The second type of texts gathers texts of synthesis. They show how the automated machines, such as they were socially designed, could re-skilled relatively and temporarly the machines operators to engage the process, much more important historically and socially, of intellectual division of the skilled maintenance work. They also show how an automation inspired by different economic and social principles is the condition to engage a real inversion of the intellectual division of work. But this condition implies a strong evolution of employment relationships, probably impossible within the capital-labor nexus. These texts are: The re-skilling of the operators and the current social form of automation, The social forms of automation, Are the productive techniques prescriptive? The example of the systems experts, Process and social forms of automation: the sociological paradigm, Expert systems and division of labor, Reflective production: an alternative to mass-production and to lean production?. Some of these texts were translated or republished in French with complements.

Finally one will find texts which take again whole or part of the investigations or the synthesis to develop certain topics, or which were stages towards the synthesis: Economic and social performances and forms of automation, The automation and its social forms, The presuppositions of current automation and the evolution of the skills, The skill of the workforce and the new forms of work organization, To design an expert system of diagnosis of breakdowns, useful and that will not take the place of skilled workers.

Almost the whole of the texts treating of the topic of the social engendering of the productive techniques are now on line. To have an overall picture of them and to understand their origins and their consequences on following researches, it will be useful to clik résumé of works. One can read why the historical research about The capitalist division of labour led to search the social origin of productive techniques and how the results permitted the questioning and the critic of the convergence thesis towards a new productive model which would reverse the division of work (The productive models. The conditions of profitability).

After a slowing down in December, because of the holidays of Christmas, the frequentation of the site started again in January to grow strongly, reaching the 240 visits on average day, the 5.342 visitors and the 2.074 texts downloaded. One will find all the details in Statistics site.