Windows on the Workplace
Technology, Jobs, and the Organization of Office WorkBook - 2004
A history of how office work has changed over the past 50 years.
In this eye-opening book, Joan Greenbaum tells the story of changes in management policies, work organization, and the design of office information systems from the 1950s to the present. She describes the impact of new technologies on the organization of working life with a keen awareness of the social forces that seek to benefit from them, showing how the process is driven by the needs of capitalist profit and control over the workforce rather than the good of society or greater efficiency.
Windows on the Workplace takes as its starting-point the experience of office workers and their own accounts of it. The book includes interviews with a wide range of workers, including young people entering a workplace in which the expectation of stable, long-term employment has all but disappeared. Greenbaum's approach is to locate their experiences and expectations within broader social and economic patterns, and to show how these patterns are constantly changing.
In a field that is constantly changing, this book captures the moment and clarifies the direction in which it is moving. It exposes the myth that technological advance and free market economics are creating a better future for all, and reveals the reality behind the myth.
Greenbaum (computer information systems, LaGuardia Junior College; and environmental psychology, City U. of New York) debunks technological determinism by looking closely at work and the organization and meaning of work and jobs, finding that workers are enduring insecurity, increased competition, demands for more and more specialization, and management's inability to organize work properly. In this edition, which she has updated to include current conditions in the workplace, she describes the changes wrought by the computer in the office environment in the past 50 years, the reasons why the office of the future has remained in the future, and the clots of conventional wisdom that workers in the "knowledge industry" must confront collectively if they want to do meaningful work and avoid being absorbed into the milling millions of the downsized. Annotation ©2005 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)