INFORMATIONALISM: COMPUTER SYSTEMS AND THE VALUES OF TRIPLE SURPLUS LABOR
Degree awarded: Ph.D. Sociology. American University
INFORMATIONALISM: COMPUTER SYSTEMS AND THE VALUES OF TRIPLE SURPLUS LABOR BYJordan NaodABSTRACTThis dissertation analyzes how computer engineering organizations (firms that produce software and hardware) gained--and continue to gain--profit from labor wages in the production process and further demonstrates how these practices have caused a labor wage disadvantage for workers in this field. Computer engineering organizations devised unique operational mechanisms, functioning as the 3 components of their modes of production: original organization, management and production infrastructures. Computer engineering organizations formed a top-down pyramid organizational structure that synchronized with the hierarchy based micromanagement structure, and later developed an upside-down pyramid that worked with the macro-matrix management structure, requiring the development of their own production infrastructures to establish a complete modes of production. This study applies a historical analysis methodology by defining two periods: the Transitional Phase (1970-95) and the Age of Information (1995-2009), each of having its own modes of production with a distinct surplus value mechanism. During the Transitional Phase computer engineering organizations utilized manual based single function computer systems, which necessitated the development of a pyramid based organizational structure, a hierarchy based micromanagement infrastructure and a manual based production infrastructure (the Waterfall production framework, an individual based production process, specialized based Division of Labor forces and production devices). The surplus value mechanism of this period was the increase in the number of specialized Division of Labor forces and the speeding up of the production process. Nevertheless, as computer engineering organizations demanded more growth from the production process, they initiated a transformation of the production infrastructure by creating multitasking production devices, automation and internet communication. This production infrastructure was comprised by 4 new components: 1) Waterfall was changed to the Iterative production framework method, 2) single function base production devices were changed to multifunctional production devices, 3) singular specialization based Division of Labor forces were changed to multifunctional based Division of Labor forces, and finally, 4) the manual individual based production process became a multitasking based production process. This was followed by a transformation of the hierarchy management infrastructure to a macro-matrix management infrastructure, along with the replacement of the pyramid organizational structure with the upside-down and linear organizational structure. By the mid-90's, the 4 components of production infrastructure were transformed, which gave birth to the Age of Information. These changes transformed the manual based single function production process and were meant to promote efficiency in production process. This was similar to the transformation of the previous classic surplus value mechanism (extracting surplus labor value from only one task in the manual production process) to a more effective mechanism of surplus value that would be compatible with the multitasking production process. Thus, applying the most advanced multitasking production devices and multitalented workforces, computer engineering organizations were able to extract surplus labor by assigning multitasking to a worker in production process, which became the operational mechanism for the Age of Information (1996-2009). With this transformation, computer engineering organizations developed a compatible surplus value mechanism (Triple Surplus Value, a concept and term coined by this present study), consisting of increasing the number of Division of Labor forces, speeding up the production process and multitasking multitalented professionals to perform the production process activities of multiple positions free of labor cost. The degree of Triple Surplus Value is measured using a formula introduced in Chapters 4 and 5, incorporating data from DOL's 41-year historical labor wage standard records and 13 years of historical job posting records. The results of this study indicate that computer engineering organizations gained large profits by controlling labor wages in production process and illustrate a labor wage disadvantage for workers.
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