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An Inquiry on the Structured Antagonism in the Employment Relationship

“There is thus a relation of “structured antagonism” between employer and worker. This term is used to stress that the antagonism is built into the basis of the relationship, even though on a day-to-day level co-operation is also important. It is important to distinguish this idea from the more usual one of a conflict of interests. The latter has the problem of implying that the real or fundamental interests of capital and labor are opposed, and hence that any form of participation scheme is simply a new way of bending workers to capital’s demands. The fact that the worker has several interests confounds this idea.

Strctured Antagonism in the Employment Relationship A structured antagonism is a basic aspect of the employment relationship which shapes how day-to-day relations are handled but is not something which feeds directly into the interests of the parties. Firms have to find ways to continue to extract a surplus, and if they do not then both they and their workers will suffer. Balancing the needs of controlling workers and securing commitment rests ultimately on ensuring that a surplus continues to be generated, but this should not disguise the fact that they are exploited. ” – Edwards, 1986.

Rationale for Engaging in Employment For a living, people, of right age, resort to having a stable and decent job. This has been the thing we put in mind when taking up a college degree or any form of learning or training we opt to engage ourselves in. Some, if not really all, of the employees, after some years of experience working in a corporate firm, would say that a long term goal gears towards having a business of their own. Some people, however, have this thing in mind even without having to experience working in a corporate firm. The reason – they want to be the captain of their own souls.

Some stick to the current status of employment as a last resort for having a means of living. Some are really working hard to save sufficient amount to start a business of their own. This leads us to thinking that employer-employee relationship is not in its best shape. While there are flip sides in almost all social relationships known to man (Herriot, 2001), as these relationships are subject to influences and constraints brought about by human psychology, this write-up specifically focuses on the factors affecting the presence of rock in the employer-employee road.

What Brings the Rock in the Employer-Employee Relationship What is bringing this rock in this road? It may be best to view it in the context of the Class Theory of Marx that states, from the moment human society emerged from its primitive and relatively undifferentiated state, it has remained fundamentally divided between classes who clash for the pursuit of class interest (Coser, 1977). Classes are everywhere. Each of us belongs to a certain class, in every category of life, and these classes can be described, maybe primarily, by the interests governing it.

Interests are what drive people to do things, to move, to see things, to perceive happenings, to live. Unifying every class’ interest is no longer a question. It is far beyond reality. In dealing with social relationship conflicts, it is not an aim for every human being to have the same set of interests. As difficult, if not really impossible, as it may seem, the approach left to be explored is the possibility of trying to understand each other’s differences and coming up in a way of meeting people half way. This is, of course, a scenario in a perfect world.

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