Technological Change and the Division of Labor:The Case of Retail Meatcutters
AbstractThis article examines the effects of technological changes on the division of labor and skill requirements for a craft occupation (meatcutter) in a service industry (retail food). The article defines skill as a multidimensional concept with three components (technical competence, scarcity, and high status) and emphasizes the importance of contextual factors on deskilling. The analysis suggests that deskilling is not a linear function of technological innovation. Rather, new technology can either increase or decrease workers' skills, and workers can have some control over which technology gets introduced. Deskilling technology is dependent on the ability to develop a market for standardized goods, which can be difficult, if not impossible, for certain structurally diverse markets.