Legitimation and Consent in Work

  • Paul Thompson


Workers do not always need to be overtly controlled. They may effectively ‘control’ themselves, particularly if they are in white-collar or professional jobs. Hales, in his case study of design workers, refers to the puzzle about why they work so hard for ICI (1980: 52). One answer may be that, despite the myth of independence implied in the ‘managerial revolution’ thesis, the trend towards tighter and more bureaucratic control subjects them to an ever greater degree of accountability to the dictates of capital accumulation. As another study of the chemical industry said of foremen, ‘These men are under no illusions that they are, or ever will be, “employers”. But they know that if they are to succeed at ChemCo they must act as if they were’ (Nichols and Beynon, 1977: 49). The level of consent or compliance of such strata of the workforce thus rests largely on their place in the productive apparatus.


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© Paul Thompson 1989

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  • Paul Thompson

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