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Contemporary Globalization and the American Worker Report (Assessment)

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The establishment of globalization as a principal theme in social analysis today is difficult to ignore. Consequently, the representation of globalization in diverse fronts, either broadly or narrowly continues to solicit interest among sociologists, political scientists, economists and other academicians. While there are numerous advantages associated with contemporary globalization, the wrangles and setbacks associated with contemporary globalization continue to demand explanations from many dimensions.

This paper presents the various arguments that developed in the past in attempts to explain contemporary globalization. In line with this, this paper also provides an overview about the impact of globalization on the American worker.

Arguments Used to Explain Contemporary Globalization

Capitalism is one of the main arguments that take center stage when it comes to arguments concerning contemporary globalization. However, this is not an indication that contemporary globalization only lies within economic boundaries and effects.

Contemporary globalization perceives capitalistic economic interrelations as a condition or a process that usually includes economies and other related spheres such as political interrelations (Vallas, Finlay and Wharton 33). The most dominant arguments concerning contemporary globalization include upgrading, downgrading and persistence of skills.

Waldinger and Lichter (34) note that the conventional view concerning skills is wrong because it “ignores a more complex reality”. The rooting of the argument that the progression of capitalism relies on deskilling as conceived by Marx has found its way into contemporary social sciences through Harry Braverman, who according to Waldinger and Lichter (34) is a thriving modern exponent.

The Braverman Argument

Braverman contends that deskilling derives from the basic aversion of capital and labor (Waldinger and Lichter 34). Moreover, the quest for profits led capital to never-ending endeavor to achieve control over labor.

Additionally, through mechanization, knowledge transfer of capital from labor and the agents of capital in addition to successful endeavors at monitoring and surveillance, capitalists chased control (Waldinger and Lichter 34). The aim of these capitalistic efforts, according to Braverman was to gain superior control over labor exercising power.

The initial one-dimensional argument was apparently too optimistic in portraying technological progress. Nevertheless, Braverman formulated his argument as a corrective of that initial argument contending that capitalism remains consistent in the reproduction of the working class.

Waldinger and Lichter (34) contend that Braverman’s observation equated to capitalism’s normal functioning producing crummy jobs in plenty. Besides, Braverman in opposition to mainstream analysts was unwilling to portray official certifications and educational credentials as equals with “real” skills, according to Waldinger and Lichter (34).

Braverman revealed diverse aspects on these portraying credentials as relevant in transmitting signals about the personal qualifications of a job candidate to employers a view common with economists. On the other hand, sociologists would perceive credentials and educational qualifications as artificial raisers of entry barriers, according to Waldinger and Lichter (34).

Thus, the first argument that attempts to explain contemporary globalization is the economic part of it that deals to a great extent with the economic globalization mainly under capitalist forms.

The social network theory is a representation of the most successful and distinctive sociological contribution. In spite of the network theory failing to explain migration streams’ activation, it identifies a basic feature that is common almost in all migrations. This feature explains that once migrations begin, they have tended to persist (Waldinger and Lichter 84).

Labor, Immigrants and Fordism

Fordism concerns itself with explaining the production aspect of contemporary globalization. According to Vallas, Finlay and Wharton (91), Fordism emphasizes on the change to a workday worth eight hours and coupled with wage increases.

The concept behind this is the assurance that this gives workers concerning living above the poverty line. Vallas, Finlay and Wharton (91) contend that “the underlying premise underlying Fordism was that unskilled workers should be paid enough to buy the products of their labor”.

Fordism is an exemplar of indicative of how the interaction of political, economic and social organizations secures capitalist reproduction. As a tier to capitalism, Fordism further propels capitalism as an economic system by focusing on profits through increased production.

The dynamism of the contemporary globalization and the always progressive nature of capitalist societies in the twenty-first century would rarely perform without labor provision from immigrants (Waldinger and Lichter 33-34).

Technology characterizes the better part of contemporary globalization and capitalism. Waldinger and Lichter (21) point out that the immigrants today have penetrated “an area where the historic succession of migrant streams from diverse origins produced an elaborate ethnic division of labor…”

With the proliferation of contemporary globalization, these new entrants reorganized the ethnic labor division without lessening the strength that boundaries possess.

Impact of Globalization on the American Worker

Waldinger and Lichter (4) imply that contemporary immigration today carries with it numerous newcomers who enter America with significant advantages. Moreover, these new entrants proceed to acquire even more advantages over some Native American workers.

These newcomers with their good education and entrepreneurial skills make their way into the professions in rising numbers tending to fit into the fresh economy (Waldinger and Lichter 4). Furthermore, most of them tend to evade the bottom of the ladder and enter at the top or near there.

Consequently, this tends to leave the natives at the bottom while the well-equipped immigrants take up higher positions. There were networks initially designed by persons of the same kind e.g., African Americans to ensure that only their kind got jobs in a certain organization (Waldinger and Lichter 3-4).

This is especially so since most employers embracing the spirit of Universalism, as introduced by globalization, employ bureaucracy that prevents colonization of the workplace by a group through applied formalization during the recruitment process (Waldinger and Lichter 15).

While the immigrants view the labor market in terms of comparison between America and their place of origin, the Euro-Americans and African-Americans tend to focus on higher rewards compared to those at the lowest level (Waldinger and Lichter 17).

Consequently, employers may prefer Immigrants over Euro-Americans and African-American, particularly because the immigrants are not like the Americans. According to Waldinger and Lichter (17), the immigrants present “double disadvantage in the labor market, sharing the abilities of the native-born American worker…”


In conclusion, the immigrants add to the labor pool, particularly at the lower rungs. Resultantly, this should make it difficult for the less-educated Americans to secure jobs (Waldinger and Lichter 18). However, while the plausibility of this argument is high, evidence is scarce.

Furthermore, research reveals that the effect caused by immigrants on wages in the American labor market is negligible. Nevertheless, economists argue that immigrants may replace or work together with the American natives at the supportive functions’ level (Waldinger and Lichter 19).

Works Cited

Vallas, Steven, F. William, and A. Wharton. The Sociology of Work: Structures and Inequalities, New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Print.

Waldinger, Roger and M. Lichter. How The Other Half Works: Immigration and the Social Organization of Labor, Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003. Print.

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