chapter  9
12 Pages

' The contested terrain': a critique of R. C. Edwards's theory of working-class fractions and politics

ByRoger Penn

Edwards argues that the tripartite structure of the contemporary working class is the direct consequence of the three kinds of labour control system that underpin the three major labour markets that characterize advanced capitalist societies. For Edwards, capitalism is defined by the commodity form of labour or, more precisely, the purchaser of labour power. Consequently, the crucial problem for the the purchaser of this labour power is not its cost but the question of how to ensure that work actually gets done. The problem of control can be separated into three aspects: direction, evaluation and monitoring, and finally, discipline. Historically, three different combinations of these elements or 'forms of control' have evolved to deal with these problems of co-ordination in the capitalist enterprise: 'simple', 'technical' and 'bureaucratic'.