Wage earners
Essay 2 (15-20 pages) Worth 30 per cent
You are expected to write a 15-20 page paper that explores the experience of wageearners in one particular occupational group over the past half century (that is, since the 1940s). You should present an analysis of changing working and living conditions for the kind of worker you select, based on library and internet research and at least TWO interviews with workers (you are free to do as many more as you would like). A special bibliography is available on the course Moodle site.
In order to get some sense of generational change, you should chose at least one interviewee over age 50 and another under 40. A carefully prepared questionnaire and a tape recorder will be essential. These interviews should be part of the raw material for your analysis, and the paper must involve more than simply narrating the stories of two lives. You should try to integrate all aspects of these workers’ lives into a coherent analysis and to isolate the main changes that have taken place in the experience of this particular occupational group. You will find it helpful to keep the following categories of analysis in mind, but do not feel restricted to them.
1. Industrial context: what has been the state of the market for the goods or services being produced? How has it changed?
2. labour market: what kind of labour has been needed for this work? How plentiful or scarce has it been? How much competition has there been for the work? Where have most of the workers come from (e.g., city, countryside, other countries, etc.)?
3. Training: at home? In school? On the job? Through apprenticeship?
4. Management: what kind of management policies have governed this work? How tightly have they controlled the worker? How have these policies changed?
5. technology: what kind of tools and/or machinery is used? How has the technology been changing? What kinds of skills are involved? How valuable are these skills and how have they changed?
6. terms of employment: how well paid has the work been? Have wages increased along with the cost of living? Have they kept pace with other workers? What benefits have been received in addition to wages?
7. Working conditions: what hours of work have been expected? What have the health and safety conditions been like? What holidays and vacations have been possible?
8. resistance: what evidence has there been that workers have resisted their employers’ goals and tactics on the job? How much state involvement has there been? Is there a union and a collective agreement governing the terms of employment? What differences has unionization (or lack of it) made? how much is the worker involved in his or her union? Have these workers carried any of their concerns into politics?
9. family: what kind of family life have the wageearners been involved in? What have their domestic responsibilities been and how have they changed? Where have these responsibilities fit into the overall patterns of their life?
10. leisure: how have these workers had fun off the job? With whom have they socialized? Have these patterns changed at all?
11.?aspirations: what have these workers wanted out of life? How have they gone about trying to get it?

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