Manual Cultural Work: Understanding the Cultural Industries (Routledge Harwood)

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This may be considered a foreshadowing of a Gestalt psychological approach to action-patterns which would be elaborated in Lewin's essay Vorsatz, Wille undBediirfnis Lewin, ; here he also refers to the same example of skilled and unskilled type-setting. I would argue that Lewin did incorporate findings from psychotechnical research into the development of the general theoretical framework he would use for his experimental and other empirical studies.

Historical accounts of Lewin's work at this time tend to ignore this source of influence, and concentrate, instead, upon the results of both his studies on the psychology of will and his methodological considerations of Gestalt theory e. Sahakian, , pp. A more articulate attempt by Lewin to deal with psychological problems of work was the earlier analysis he made of the role of the labourer in agriculture Lewin, In comparison with factory jobs, this role was less specialized and less specific.

Working in the fields, more of the whole person was engaged. The abilities involved were not as readily identified by aptitude tests, as were the specific skills needed by a factory worker. Lewin also paid attention to possible improvements of. With new machinery and increased mechanization in farming, more consideration should be given to their best use, in accordance with the psychophysical qualities possibilities and limitations of the worker.

So even before Lewin published his essay on the socialization of the Taylorism system, he had already demonstrated his practical concerns with the field of applied psychology. In the 1 s, he was to continue this commitment to practical investigations, in addition to his comprehensive scientific work. Thus, in a series of studies between and , he turned to practical problems in the work place.

Lewin participated in two large-scale industrial investigations : in a wall-paper firm in Berlin and in textile mills in Silesia Lewin, ; ; Lewin, Rupp, Lewin's first article dealt primarily with questions of perceptual psychology, but Lewin and Lewin and Rupp elaborated his concepts of saturation, action space, psychological forces, and so forth. He was not only concerned about the subjective internal states of the workers, but he also considered the work situation in its wider social context. He considered wage increases, and not just increases in production, as an important criterion for the success of his efforts.

A direct link may also be seen between these studies and his later studies in action- and affect-psychology. And, in line with Lewin's earlier programmatic intentions, one can discern in these later investigations a number of his concerns : making work "more pleasant" ; simplifying the task in order to enable the workers to carry it out in an easier way ; including the subjective experience of the workers ; and, finding democratic ways of dealing with vocational selection.

Although this research is very pro-social with regard to the workers, no groups or political organizations representing them — workers ' councils or trade unions — were involved in these investigations, nor were "consumption and production" taken into consideration from an overall societal perspective, as in Lewin's earlier discussion. Nonetheless, we can see from these applied industrial studies how Lewin began employing the concept of "life space". Reflecting back on these work settings, Lewin's chapter "Life situations and momentary situations" in Principles of Topological Psychology a — the German version of which had been completed in — gives an illustrative example of a woman working at her loom in a large, bustling factory, and includes a phenomenological description of her subjective experience and psychological situation at a specific moment.

Furthermore, Lewin describes an internal conflict this woman experiences :. A thread is broken. She is about to stop the machine to see what has happened. It is shortly before the lunch hour.

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She has accomplished very little during the morning. She is annoyed. She has been married for three years. For a year and a half, her husband has been unemployed. The two-year old child has been seriously ill, but today he seems somewhat better. She and her husband have been quarelling more and more often recently. They had a quarrel this morning. Her husband's parents have suggested that she send the child to them in the country. The woman is undecided what to do about it" Lewin, a, pp. It is especially important to notice here how Lewin included the "total" social reality at that time into his considerations, and tried to integrate this into his theoretical framework.

The above examination of some of the Berlin-period studies also offers strong evidence that Lewin had already become an applied social psychologist with a budding social psychological theoretical perspective, complemented by practical insights from several real-world industrial studies. Let us now examine how Lewin would elaborate this approach during his American period, in the context of his industrial psychology studies. Lewin's american studies on action research in industry. Lewin' s second period of scientific work followed his flight from Nazi Germany to the United States in Here, Lewin would eventually succeed in creating both a succesful career for himself and a "school" of followers7.

The relevance of his ideas for social policy was recognized by important scholars and significant policymakers at the time. As well, his good-hearted, outgoing and sociable personality also fit quite well with the relevant American settings in which he worked, much to his benefit8. Once established in America, he would again turn his attention to problems of the work process. In , he was invited by Alfred Marrow his student, and later his biographer to discuss significant labour problems with the staff of the Harwood Manufacturing Corporation, a new pyjama manufacturing plant in a rural community in Virginia, of which Marrow was then a management official.

This was to be the start of a collaborative research relationship th at would continue for eight years'. The factory management tried to train inexperienced local apprentices to meet the. The trainees, who were mainly women with no factory experience, were eager to work ; however, on the job theirwork pace wasslow, their output was much too low, and the employee turnover rate was extremely high.


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Furthermore, the engineering department and the supervisory staff had tried exhaustedly all the known systems of rewards for increasing production. Lewin suggested a number of methods to remedy this problematic situation and these were all followed by the factory's management. These methods were based on the following principles : 1 stop putting pressure on individual employees ; 2 deal with workers as members of small groups rather than as individuals ; and 3 find some methods to give the group the feeling that the standard is realistic and can be reached Marrow, 1 , p.

Because at first there were still too few workers meeting the company standard, an additional 60 experienced, skilled workers were hired bythe Harwood Manufacturing Corporation, from a plant which was closing forty miles away. These newcomers were soon meeting management's production standards. Gradually, as well, the original employees began to improve their output and management's goal, seemingly unattainable at first, was reached. Lewin's approach began to look really effective. Lewin succeeded in convincing the Harwood management of the relevance of a program of research at their factory.

On Lewin's advice, Alex Bavelas, then at the University of Iowa, was asked to plan and put into effect a series of small-group experiments on human factors in factory management. During the s, Bavelas was to launch a number of "pioneering experiments'' within the domain of action research in industry. The first one was aimed at discovering the effect of "giving the workers greater control over their output" and an opportunity "to participate in setting their own goals" Marrow, ,p.

Bavelas began by holding meetings for about thirty minutes, several times a week, with a small group of high-producing operators. The advantages and disadvantages of each suggested method were then discussed. Management agreed to help carry through the changes that were recommended. Then the group was asked to vote on the issue of increasing its own daily output. All workers would decide for themselves, but announce their decisions publicly "in the reinforcing context of the group setting" Marrow, , p.

Indeed, a substantial increase in productivity was reached and later maintained for five months while other groups in the factory showed no significant increase during this same period. This study was strongly inspired by the insights from the food-habits experiments being conducted during World War II in which Lewin and his co-workers sought to persuade housewives to serve nutritious but unpopular organ meats such as heart, kidneys and brains. Lewin had concluded that a straight lecture method was significantly inferior to one employing a group, a group leader, an expert and a decision-making process in which the homemakers were led to carry out decisions they had shared in making.

Lewin explained this finding by referring to a "freezing effect" which was partly due to the individual group member's tendency to "stick to his decision" and partly to the "commitment to the group". Thus the act of deciding had the effect of linking motivation to action Lewin, a ; Marrow, , pp. Suggestions for Bavelas's study at the Harwood plant came also. These experiments were interpreted as showing that performance of groups operating under democratic supervision was always superior to that of groups with the other leadership styles.

So in the industrial setting, a high priority was given to a rapid retraining of mediocre group leaders into "efficient democratic leaders" Bavelas, Lewin, In another experiment, Bavelas had a small group of workers plan their own hourly pace and daily work level by means of "pacing cards" ; they were allowed to do so, as long as they kept at or above the required minimum quota. This was considered a way toward greater "self -management" in the work situation Marrow, , p. In this experiment, too, Bavelas found a marked increase in the output of the experimental group while that of the control group remained unchanged.

Although research between and often had to be interrupted because of changes in production schedules or operating plans, Bavelas, succeeded by John French, managed to enrol many of Harwood's factory workers and almost all of the managers in one experiment or another during this period. With the studies of authoritarian and democratic leadership styles as a frame of reference e.

The emphasis was laid on practical methods such as role playing, socio-drama, group problem solving, and other action research techniques.

Cultural Work: Understanding the Cultural Industries (Routledge Harwood)

The general purpose of this training experiment was to equip the supervisors with more effective methods of "winning cooperation", "building trust", "improving morale" and "handling the disciplinary problems of their subordinates". In training these supervisors, various practices involving self-examination, feedback, openness, confidence building, and group problem-solving were used.

Starting in , these would later become integral parts of the sensitivity training programmes developed by Lewin and his associates for workshops such as those at Bethel, Maine, which, in turn, would become formally institutionalized as the National Training Laboratories Marrow, , pp. In a way, this kind of training may be understood as revealing a certain continuity with the emphasis in Lewin' s earlier Berlin work on the dual necessity of democratic co-operation between researchers and subjects and of full consideration of the latter' s subjectivity.

By , Lewin and his co-workers had also become engaged in action programs to counter undemocratic selection systems in application procedures for university admissions and department store employment Marrow, , pp. But, as John , p. Further Lewinian-inspired industrial -setting work by French involved a program aimed at changing specific stereotypes concerning work qualifications of women over thirty.

This was aimed at the managerial staff and its personnel policy, and essentially consisted of a process of "scientific fact finding" by the top managers themselves French, Marrow, French also tackled one of the most serious managerial problems at Harwood during the years of Lewin' s association : the. Based on evidence gained in interviews, this resistance was primarily defined as involving motivational problems. And group participation methods were considered the solution to the problem of overcoming resistance to change. However it wasn 4 until the fall of , after Lewin's death, that an appropriate opportunity arose to carry out the relevant experiment involving job changes.

Aided by Lester Coch the personnel manager , changes in jobs were instituted in three different ways, each involving a different degree of employee participation in working out the details of the new job assignments. Coch and French concluded that for production, the rate of recovery was directly proportional to the amount of participation and that the rates of turnover and aggression were inversely proportional to the amount of participation.

Lewin died unexpectedly in February, The Research Center for Group Dynamics which hehadfounded in at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had collaborated on some of these Harwood studies. The findings of all the Harwood studies were to form the starting-point for a whole series of comparative studies, carried out on a grand scale at the Survey Research Center Rose , pp.

Starting first with studies at the micro-level in organizations, more attention was gradually paid to organizational control issues at the meso-level, which made up a significant component of the context of the work processes concerned e. The tension between democratic beliefs and manipulative applications. Lewin's evolving conception of action research was aimed at the integration of theory and mainly experimental empirical research with their direct application. In this endeavour, he was prompted by his passionate belief in democracy which had been strongly nurtured by his experiences during the turbulent years in Weimar Germany.

In Lewin's action research, democracy served many functions : as a primary aim, an ethical value, a scientific truth as to its advantages , and a psychological possibility Lewin, ; M.


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  8. Lewin, ; John etal, But how can this knowledge be reconciled with criticisms that Lewinian applied psychology — at least during Lewin's American years — manifested a strong manipulative tendency in such real-world applied settings as the production-. Rose, , p. Can action research have it both ways at the same time — offer individuals in groups the possibility of making free, democratic choices, while applying change interventions in their work environments which may interfere with these individuals' best interests and wishes?

    I think the solution of this apparent paradox is that Lewin, after his arrival in America, came to fervently commit himself to the American tradition of psychosocial intervention practices which Graebner later labelled "democratic social engineering". Graebner , p. But this ambivalent approach cannot be clearly defined as either coercive or uncoercive. It was in fact understood both as a form of social control and as a variant of democracy.

    It thus would appeal to the political right and to the left, to conservatives as well as populists, and most certainly to a nation such as America, so fundamentally ambivalent about authority. It was simultaneously an expression of American ideas of freedom and of societal order. Its intellectual roots lie in the tum-of-the-century social sciences primarily psychology and sociology , pragmatic philosophy, and progressive education. See, for a more general background, Miller, O'Leary, In his book Influencing human behavior, the American social psychologist H.

    Overstreet proposed a clear expression of this complex of ideas and its main objective : "intelligent control of the social process" Within industrial sociology in the United States, from the s onwards, a similar tendency can be discerned. The parent discipline of sociology, at its inception, was to a considerable extent identical with the study of industrial organization and development ; its political aim was the democratic self -regulation of industrial society, discussed under the label of "social control".

    So too for early industrial sociology, where this was interpreted as the extension of democratic participation in industrial organizations and in the communities in which they functioned. Cohen discussed similarmovements of ideas in general sociology and industrial sociology, especially concerning the nature of social control and the debates over this issue between the Chicago School and Harvard sociologists. Democratic social engineering consists of group decision-making with a predetermined influence objective ; it comprises a system of authority that is "ideally" effective and yet "democratic".

    Its protagonists were attracted to social psychology, and in particular to its Lewinian variant, because as a body of knowledge it confirmed the validity of group process as the ideal form of social reform and social control in a democratic culture. In this respect, I agree with Nikolas Rose's valuation that Lewinian social psychology is part of the broader tradition of social psychology understood as "a science of democracy" : a complex of theoretical knowledge, professional intervention practices and "forms of judgment", linked to democracy as a way of organizing, exercising and legitimating political power.

    Arbitrary authority is thus replaced with that permitting a rational, social scientific justification N. Rose, , , In this connection, it is relevant that Gordon Allport, in his foreword to Lewin's selected papers on group dymamics, mentioned the "striking kinship" between the work of Dewey and Lewin : "Dewey is the outstanding philosophical exponent of democracy. Lewin its outstanding psychological exponent. More clearly than anyone else has he shown us in concrete, operational terms what it means to be a democratic leader, and to create a democratic group structure" Allport, , p.

    In their critical comments on Graebner's essay, Lippitt and Miriam Lewin both strongly objected to his qualification of Lewin's action research as "democratic social engineering" with its negative connotations of manipulation.

    Both criticisms take the position that Lewin' s ideas and intervention practices were indeed fundamentally democratic. Miriam Lewin, for example, presents evidence from various publications and details of her father's intellectual career. In addition she points out that "democracy" has a different meaning in various social contexts, and that each needs a different conceptualization of democracy. Due to differences in position, status and power, genuinely egalitarian relationships between leaders and group members is neither possible nor even desirable in specific domains, such as in the family, in education, or in a business organization.

    I shall return to this point in the next section. And did they contain a manipulative element?

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    Or, as Graebner suggests, did they harbour both elements, as "democratic social engineering"? I think Graebner's argument is well founded, at least as far as the Harwood studies are concerned ; these studies all bore Lewin's imprint, directly or indirectly, to varying degrees. A closer look at the successive experiments reveals that in each case, predetermined goals had already been set by management ; the researcher s and group leader s seem to then come to agreement about these :.

    The implication here is that management' s position about production goals was already taken for granted. The fact that the original employees improved their output to management's goals, after the arrival of the skilled workers and various group discussions, needs also to be examined in terms of the local economic and employment context. There was high unemployment in that Virginia community, and when skilled newcomers from elsewhere were being given jobs that otherwise.

    In fact, the town officials had been strongly opposed to giving jobs to outsiders, but were persuaded to let the suggestions be tried out Marrow, , pp. All of this may have led to increased level of aspiration for the original local workers. This production increase was again taken for granted as the starting-point. Here again it seems as if the democratic, spontaneous group dynamic processes which might evolve and play a role in a group decision, are all pressured or constrained or manipulated? The resistances to change to new job methods and work operations, "necessitated" by competitive socio- economic conditions, "engineering progress", or consumer demands, were defined as primarily motivational problems.

    In this case, the researchers ran a real risk of reductionism : consigning their study to the psychological question of individual motivation rather than treating it as a societal problematic where one might wish to explore such factors as the degree of involvement of workers in the planning of new technical -organizational structures, and the nature of existing labour relations.

    There were other management-imposed constraints on this study, as well. In the decision-making process of the groups involved, a full range of possible options concerning changes in job methods and operations was not taken into account ; the employees, rather, worked out details of the "proposed" [sic] new job assignments. These had actually been predetermined and maintained by the managerial staff only.

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    The sharply decreasing morale in the non-participation groups was inferred in this study from observations of marked hostility toward the supervisor, slowdowns and "complaints to the union, and Lewin , p. However, as I shall argue below, a participative action research approach should, in specific circumstances, also imply a serious attempt to reduce power differences and to change other structural constraints of the work situation. Such an "emancipatory" extension of Lewin' s democratic vision seems missing from the Harwood studies. Rather, a different, more management-oriented manipulative tone seems evident.

    In presenting the problematic to the various people involved, the following principle was followed : "The reality is presented correctly, but [only] those aspects are brought into the fore which are linked with the psychological situation of the person in question and are helpful in bringing about favorable permanent motivation" Lewin, , p.

    Cohen, R. Seattle: University of Washington Press. Davila, A. Douglas, M. Douglas, S. Eckhardt, G. Firat, A. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, — Fiske, A. Friedman, J. London, UK: Sage. London, UK: Harwood, — Featherstone, S. Robertson, eds , Global Modernities. London, UK: Sage, 69— Modood eds , Debating Cultural Hybridity. Multicultural Identities and the Politics of Racism. London, UK: Zed Books, 70— Geertz, C. Ger, G. Giddens, A.

    Hannerz, U. London, UK: Routledge. Hobsbawm, E. Hofstede, G. James, A. Howes ed. Cross-Cultural Consumption.

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    London, UK: Routledge, 77— Kjeldgaard, D. Belk ed. Handbook of Qualitative Research Methods in Marketing. Levitt, T. Conference Publication 10 outputs. Contract Report, Consultant's Report 13 outputs. Thesis 1 outputs. Other Public Output 3 outputs. Funding Summary Number of grants. Description This is a technical project led by computer scientists and engineers, working with industry to develop better ways of managing renewable energy generation and battery storage on electricity grid.

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