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The Class Situation of Information Specialists: a Case Analysis

  • Clare Lewin
  • Myron Orleans
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    This paper examined the paradoxical class situation of information specialists in the post-industrial society as both professionals and employees. We described and analyzed the 'technocratic' authority wielded by them and their mode of consciousness. We assessed whether these workers functioned as the vanguard of a new style of democratized work or buttressed the position of managerial authority. We used qualitative methods to study the social conduct and meaning systems of fourteen computer specialists, including programmers, analysts, and project leaders employed in a large insurance company. The data was analyzed using a critical phenomenological perspective derived from the work of authors such as Berger, Braverman, Burawoy, Foucault, and Marcuse. We found that the subjects experienced a class situation that was somewhat more empowered than the industrial or corporate models, but did not differ substantially from that of the production workers in industrial society. Their power, prestige, privilege and status essentially camouflaged the subjects' compliance to hierarchical authority. The subjects exhibited awareness of their power but essentially directed their energies toward task attainment and individual mobility. Lacking an orientation toward structure change, the information specialists did not appear to fit the notion of a vanguard group. From this research we foresee some possibilities of changes within organizational authority as information specialists confront management with their expertise, but we anticipate that the institutions of social domination will prevail.

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    File URL: http://www.socresonline.org.uk/5/3/lewin.html
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    Article provided by Sociological Research Online in its journal Sociological Research Online.

    Volume (Year): 5 (2000)
    Issue (Month): 3 ()
    Pages: lewin

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    Handle: RePEc:sro:srosro:2000-57-2
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    1. Industrial Sociology (FCT-UNL)

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