By Conference of Socialist Economists
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Extra resources for Capital & Class. - 1988. - Issue 34
Some firms also remained outside the threefold classification, simply because they were 'too mixed or changing' . To set up a false dichotomy between 'mass production' on the one hand, and 'craft production' on the other, and discover product diversity as proof of an alternative 'paradigm', is thus a distortion of a much more complex reality . 2) The decline of mass production To demonstrate a basic opposition between two types of production - mass production relying on mass markets, dedicated equipment and semi-skilled workers making standardised goods, versus flexible equipment and skilled workers producing specialist goods - poses a false problem .
And since a short-cut to skill shortage was often the buying in of specialist labour, the development of flexibility in the 'core' workforce was actually hindered . In Britain 'core' status thus has a hollow ring, especially when 'employment security boiled down in practice to a reduction in the threat of job loss rather than anything more positive' (ibid : 79) . This is hardly a convincing case for a consolidating 'core' workforce . The flexible firm: conclusions on the evidence From this review of the changes in the workforce and in employment practices, the 'flexible firm' model is left standing with few clothes .
For women, this was a 40 per cent loss in manufacturing part-time jobs between 1979 and 1986 (Lewis, 1987). The 1984 Census of Employment and 1985 Labour Force Survey cast further doubt on a simplistic view of increasing part-time work . At an aggregate level, the proportion of the total workforce who worked part-time (defined here as working fewer than 30 hours per week) increased only from 14 per cent to 16 per cent between 1980 and 1984 . As previously, it remains concentrated in the non-manufacturing sector, where it has increased from 18 per cent to 22 per cent of the workforce between 1980 and 1984 (Millward & Stevens, 1986 : 205).