An economic form of domination : the apparatus of calculation and the labour process in the Queensland coal industry

Turner, Kathy (1994). An economic form of domination : the apparatus of calculation and the labour process in the Queensland coal industry PhD Thesis, School of Social Science, The University of Queensland.

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Author Turner, Kathy
Thesis Title An economic form of domination : the apparatus of calculation and the labour process in the Queensland coal industry
School, Centre or Institute School of Social Science
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 1994
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Open Access Status File (Publisher version)
Supervisor Michael Emmison
Total pages 296
Language eng
Subjects 140211 Labour Economics
140205 Environment and Resource Economics
Formatted abstract
Capital dominates labour through the social relations which constitute the possibilities for both the labourer in production and the wage labourer in exchange. Domination in capitalism is achieved through both subordination and freedom. It is an economic form of domination consisting of an articulation between the labour process and, what I have called, the apparatus of calculation. Within it the human attributes of will, knowledge and need take on their historically specific forms.

The coal industry in Queensland (Australia) is examined to draw out the transformations within the economic form of domination. Up until the Second World War a despotic form of domination existed as the qualities necessary for work were housed in the worker himself, and so personal relations of power ensured production. Within the labour process, knowledge and will were under the dominion of the miner, although they operated within an exploitative logic. Need was also attached to him. A precise accounting of the relation of need to the wage within the apparatus of calculation, meant that a labouring population was kept at hand, despite the poverty of the workers and their families.

In the middle of the century both the apparatus of calculation and the labour process were transformed. Needs disappeared from bargaining. The calculus surrounding the wage was reworked around the "neutral" requirements of the economy and the fine gradations of wage labour. With the advent of mechanisation the labour process was also changed. Real subsumption of labour occurred when the attributes of will and knowledge became visibly aspects of capital in their new forms contained in technology, management and the organisation of work. Need also took on a different shape at the same time. It became available to capital through the discourses of "human relations" and safety which centred on the psychological needs of workers for recognition and security. The real subsumption of labour was deepened.

The changes in both the apparatus of calculation and the labour process produced a hegemonic form of domination. Personal relations of power were replaced with a disciplinary form of power in both of its aspects. Rather than being articulated around the body of the labourer it was hinged on the "soul", and a more economically useful and politically docile worker was produced.
Keyword Labor movement -- Queensland -- History
Wages -- Coal miners -- Queensland -- History
Coal mines and mining -- Queensland -- History
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