Sociology Index

Harry Braverman

Among distinguished sociologists, Harry Braverman often used the pseudonym Harry Frankel. Harry Braverman was involved in the American Trotskyist movement and Socialist Workers Party. Braverman rewrote volume one of Capital, producing a history of capitalism's expropriation of control from direct producers. Sociology of work and industry and industrial psychology aimed to attune workers to work, but Harry Braverman focused on the transformation of work itself. Harry Braverman goes on to write: "The critique of the capitalist mode of production, originally the most trenchant weapon of Marxism, gradually lost its cutting edge as the Marxist analysis of the class structure of society failed to keep pace with the rapid process of change."

Harry Braverman became editor of The American Socialist, the publication of The Socialist Union and began to think and write more concretely about labor, the labor process, machinery and class consciousness. These writings of Harry Braverman would later become the key themes of Labor and Monopoly Capital.

In his analysis of the degradation of work, Braverman was also recounting the objective experience of the worker and the recomposition of class structure. Harry Braverman's book Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century, examines the degrading effect of capitalism on work in America. "Marxism," according to Harry Braverman, "is not a ready-made slot-machine dogma, but a broad theory of social development which requires application and re-interpretation in every period."

Labor and Monopoly Capital is a Trotskyist work. Harry Braverman's book is really an application of Marx’s method to an understanding of the labor process (mode of production) under Monopoly Capitalism and how the structure of the working class had changed under it.

In the introduction to Labor and Monopoly Capital, Harry Braverman discussed what might be called the degradation of Marxism in the 20th century. This degradation resulted from a number of forces acting on the labor movement. Among these forces were Stalinism and Social Democracy, a focus on various conjunctural effects and crises, a focus on Capitalism as a mode of distribution rather than a mode of production, and the imitation of capitalist modes of production in the Soviet Union.