Labour Mobility In Advanced Technological Societies

  • J. H. Smith


THE efficient allocation of labour ranks as a major problem in any society committed to higher levels of living based on continued economic growth. Mobility between jobs is a condition of this efficiency. It may be job mobility, usually involving just a change of employer; or occupational mobility, where a worker leaves a particular line of work for another; or geographical mobility, where a man moves to work in another town; or some combination of these three. Where employment prospects are fair, labour mobility is usually assumed to be at the initiative of the worker, though in large-scale enterprises a worker could change his job, occupation, or place of work in response to his employer’s directions. All such movements can be interpreted as testimony to the laws of supply and demand — in short, as evidence of the power of market forces to shape men’s decisions: it has been argued that this is as true of planned economies, which have relaxed controls on the movement of labour, as it is of capitalist societies.I


Labour Market Labour Mobility Geographical Mobility Advance Society Social Science Research Council 
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  1. 1.
    E. H. Phelps Brown, The Economics of Labor Yale University Press, 1963, p. 206.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Cf. Lloyd G. Reynolds, The Structure of Labor Markets Harper, 1951, ch. 1. Though made some 13 years ago, Reynolds’ criticisms still apply.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Examples of useful local studies include Reynolds, op. cit. Margot Jefferys, Mobility in the Labour Market Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954; Gladys L. Palmer, Labor Mobility in Six Cities Social Science Research Council, 1954. See also ‘Report of Working Party on the Manpower Situation’, Ministry of Labour Gazette 1962, February; ‘Job Mobility in 1961’, Monthly Labor Review 1963, August.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    For comprehensive accounts, see D. V. Glass (ed.), Social Mobility in Britain Routledge and Kegan Paul; S. M. Lipset and R. Bendix, Social Mobility in Industrial Society Heinemann, 1959.Google Scholar
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    Cf. Barbara Wootton, Social Foundations of Wage Policy Allen and Unwin, 1954, p. 68.Google Scholar
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    Manpower Report of the President U.S. Government Printing Office, March 1964, pp. 34–7.Google Scholar
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    The Industrial Training Act, 1964.Google Scholar
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    See L. Broom and J. H. Smith, ‘Bridging Occupations’, British Journal of Sociology 1963, December.Google Scholar
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    See the discussion in P. Sargent Florence, Economics and Sociology of Industry Watts, 1964, chs. 1 and 2.Google Scholar
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    Joyce Long, Labour Turnover under Full Employment University of Birmingham, 1951.Google Scholar
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    See for example: L. P. Adams and R. L. Aronson, Workers and Industrial Change 1957; Dorothy Wedderburn, White Collar Redundancy Cambridge University Press, 1964, Redundancy (two reports by Acton Society Trust, 1958).Google Scholar
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    See Bertil Olsson, ‘Policy Implications of Technological Change in Western Europe’ in Gerald G. Somers et al. (eds.) Adjusting to Technological Change Harper, 1963, pp. 190–205.Google Scholar

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© International Institute for Labour Studies 1966

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  • J. H. Smith

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