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Question

1700 word essay on this topic using the below required readings plus 4 other sources of your choice properly cited and with bibliography. Each paragraph except the introduction and conclusion require a citation.
Use the Required readings… 1. Sochor, Z. A. {1981 April} “Soviet Taylorism Revisited.” Soviet Studies, 33{2} 246-264 2. Laczo, F {2009} “Hungary, Revolution of 1956” IN I. Ness {ED} The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest Blackwell Publishing 2009 DOI: 10.1111/b. 9781405184649. 2009. 00733. x
Discipline: Global Labor History 

Answer

Workers East: Taylorism and Revolution

            The introduction of Taylorism into the Soviet Union was a controversial development (Sochor 246). Work and labor was characterized by lack of machines and specialized man power. During the Industrial Revolution, manufacturing changes were made from small hand tools and machines to powerful machinery that enabled mass production. Most people carried out subsistence and agrarian farming in rural settings. The revolution resulted in industrialization, urbanization and automation of other sectors such as transport, communication and banking. Work and labor was a key player in the industrial revolution and adaptation to a more mechanized era. Work management strategies and labor movements became very popular throughout Europe and the Soviet Union in an attempt to create fair working conditions and equalize all workers for maximum output. It is in this context that Taylorism, a scientific management strategy, became very popular in the Soviet Union. It played a critical role in various developments in the East, specifically in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

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            To begin with, the introduction of Taylorism in a communist society such as the Soviet Union was thought to contribute significantly to the emergence of marked differences in terms of social classes. Those who were able to acquire skills emerged as the middle class and were able to live averagely comfortable lives. Those without specialized skills worked as casual laborers and became members of the lower class. Big corporations and families that run the industries were the rich and wealthy. The gap between the rich and poor started widening. With the establishment of more industries and businesses, people began moving from the rural areas to the urban areas to look for job opportunities. The large population of workers caused a surplus in workforce and those without skills became casual laborers leaving managerial and supervision positions to skilled workers. Most of these workers ended up living in slums where they suffered disease and poor sanitation. The living and working conditions of most workers was poor and dire. Safety measures in the work place and industries were neglected (Tiger, 67). Consequently, labor unions and movements emerged to defend the rights of workers, reduce exploitation, and ensure the workers gave out their best output.

            The Hungarian revolution was one of the many revolutions during this period of protracted economic and political exploitation. Prior to the uprising, Hungary was under the rule and command of the Soviet Union. It was experiencing a bad harvest and weather conditions, and was under the rule of the communist party. Most of Hungary’s wealth was being taken to Russia. During this time, Stalin was succeeded by Nikita Khrushchev who was focused on implementing his own systems and criticizing the former systems introduced made by Stalin. Khrushchev forced Rakosi, the Hungarian leader appointed by Stalin, to leave his position. These events preceded the 1956 revolution which began with a student demonstration. Students and laborers protested on the streets of Budapest on issues of Russian control, food security, and freedom. During the protest, a student was killed, his body wrapped in a flag, and displayed to the public. This angered many and the news spread rapidly all over Hungary, sparking an uprising which lasted from 23 October to 10 November 1956. People organized themselves into small groups to fight the Soviet Union military and the State Security Police (AVH). Supporters of the Soviet Union were executed and imprisoned by these militias (Sebestyen 96).

            Based on this description of the Hungarian revolution, there is a sense in which the ideals of Taylorism may be said to have contributed to the country’s situation. It is on the basis of Taylorism that growing emphasis was on the specificity of skills for each job leading to labor surplus that precipitated widening class divisions. Meanwhile, it is imperative to explain the meaning of Taylorism at the outset. Taylorism is a scientific management strategy created and popularized by Fredrick Winslow Taylor during the 1920s and 1930s. This theory analyzes workplace tasks with the aim of improving productivity and efficiency over the shortest time possible mostly within manufacturing industries. It is founded on motion studies, and focus is primarily on management with the objective being to exert control over the activities of laborers. Often, the managerial staff population exceeds the laborer population for more observable management and supervision (Waring 54).

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            Moreover, Taylor’s theory also accepts that workers have varying abilities, interest, and career goals. Most workers will work only within their job description and will not implement any form of creativity on the job. Frederick Taylor observed an undeniable correlation between employee performance and the amount of money they are paid. Therefore, he suggested proper pricing and evaluation of a job description and allocating payment that equals the pay and customer –incentives. Scientific management evolved alongside industrialization and mechanization. The theory required the breaking up of work into smaller pieces as well as division of labor (Waring 35). Taylor always revealed his displeasure with worker unions citing them as unproductive.

            Meanwhile, scientific management or Taylorism has its advantages and limitations to the respective individuals. The first advantage was the efficient use of resources and tools. Scientific employee selection meant that qualified employees were chosen. Secondly, the theory ensured better working and living conditions for workers by raising their wages to match their job description. Moreover, this theory created better productivity patterns and equally high-value goods and services. Taylorism also carried several limitations. The first limitation was the repetitiveness of a job which inhibited innovation, creativity, and career progress. The second limitation was the shallow lessons accompanying these technique which emphasized monetary gain above all else. Science management was not very beneficial for team performance because it was designed exclusively for individual performance (Waring 34).

            On the other hand, revolutions may be evaluated in terms of advantages, disadvantages as well as their contribution to the emergence of labor unions. The Hungarian Revolution brought about social change at a time when the Hungarian people felt exploited and oppressed. In many ways, these problems seemed to be an indictment of the problems that resulted from the introduction of Taylorism. Meanwhile, the revolution led to the formation of a new government, and the Hungarians began taking back their possessions and freedom. Furthermore, the Soviet Union began to understand that people were now enlightened. However, the revolution came with the disadvantage of massive loss of lives during the uprising and the subsequent fear and hate between the two parties (Laczo 5).

            The first labor unions to emerge may be traced back to the Industrial Revolution. First of all, a union is an organization set up by workers to focus on their problems during the work such as salaries and work ethics. The impact of unions has been unbalanced, with periods of union dominance being followed by periods of virtual union non-existence (Freeman 89). Today, unions are quickly losing their power and relevance.

            Undeniably, the contemporary labor market has since evolved dramatically since the Industrial Revolution. Before the revolution, jobs were mostly domestic in the small subsistence farms people owned. All other job opportunities depended on subsidiary industries such as livestock development. Most people had a source of livelihood, though it had little to no profit margins. With the Industrial Revolution and the emergence of more clear-cut social classes based on monetary capability, people were forced to become competitive and look for employment (Fish 47). Unions and movements were very useful in setting conducive work environments. Today, the decline of unions seems irreversible. Unions played a huge role in establishing the middle class who were the biggest benefactors. The main reason why unions are dying out now is because, they were created to achieve purposes and solve problems specific to that time such as wages and working hours. It is worthwhile to note that Taylorism was at the heart of the debate on working hours versus wages. Moreover, in Hungary, one of the outcomes of the revolution of 1956 was the emergence of labor unions. Despite the introduction of labor unions, many challenges continue to be linked to this practice in Hungary and indeed the rest of the world.

            The scientific management strategy was created during the initial days of setting labor structures. The strategy has remained relevant although it has had to be adjusted to suit current conditions. Many refer to this amended version as New Taylorism or digital Taylorism. It involves managerial observation using contemporary technologies However, digital Taylorism creates domination by managers instead of creating a level platform for communication. For this reason, many have suggested scientific management is irrelevant in this generation (Waring 26).

            Labor has been greatly diversified and even though many remain unemployed, the labor and work force had truly changed since the Industrial Revolution. Different sectors are now interdependent following the emergence of networks that makes the whole job market inter-connected. An analysis of the origin of wage labor will help people understand why the labor market operates in the way it does today. To begin with, the feudalism system preceded wage labor and capitalism. During the Industrial Revolution, feudalism was replaced by capitalism because mechanization meant that less people were required in the farms. Eventually, privatization of industries and land paved the way for wage labor. Producers and manufacturers perceived produced good as their own since their tools and resources were used in the process. Labor was then viewed as a tool of production and with this, wage labor was established from a point of capitalism. Labor has continued to be identified as a tool of production and so have workers (Jones 69).

Labor remains an important factor of production despite mechanization, the Internet, and technological advancements. Unions and labor movements are about to take a different course that will focus less on demonstrations or protests and focus more on finding permanent solutions and creating power. Great organization and backing from the law should be the main characteristics of new unions, labor movements and revolutions. Unions are not just vehicles of protest, they serve actual economic, social and political purposes (Toke 70). Therefore, national leaders and respective leaders have to step up in the reinvention of unions and labor movements. Unlike the conventional belief, unions have not lost meaning to people: most people believe in the benefits and exposure unions have to offer.

In conclusion, Taylorism was a major contributor of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956. To best understand the connection, one should revisit the emergence of the Industrial Revolution, the adoption of Taylorism in the Soviet Union during the 1920s and the impact of forces of labor in the widening of class differences in Hungary. Thus, the Hungarian revolution may essentially be considered a labor revolution. Today, the labor sector continue to undergo numerous changes. In today’s unstructured job market, a lot of focus is on improving employment conditions and structures. Stakeholders should undertake an analysis of the contemporary labor market in order to identify the best way of avoiding further widening of the social-class divide.

Works Cited

Fish, M. Industrial Evolution: Through the Eighties with Cabaret Voltaire. London: SAF Publishing, 2002. Print.

Freeman, Richard. What do Unions do? New York: Basic Books. 1984. Print.

Jones, M. E. Barren Metal: A History of Capitalism as the conflict between Labor and Usury. Orlando: Fidelity Press, 2014. Print.

Laczo, F. Hungary Revolution of 1956: The International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest. Blackwell, 2009. Web.

Sebestyen, V. Twelve days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. New York: Vintage. 2007. Print.

Sochor, Z. “Soviet Taylorism Revisited.” Soviet Studies. 33.2 (1981): 246-264. Web.

Tiger, L. The manufacture of Evil: Evolution, and the Industrial System. London: Marion Boyars Publisher, 2000. Print.

Toke, Aidt. Unions and Collective Bargaining: Economic Effects in a Global Environment. Washington, DC: World Bank, 2002. Print.

Waring, S. P. Taylorism Transformed: Scientific Management Theory since 1945. Raleigh: University of North Carolina. 1994. Print.

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