WhenTuesday 03 November 2020, 15:00–17:00 (Central European Time) on Zoom.
Presenter Maths Isacson (Uppsala University), and discussant Gard Paulsen (NTNU).
Recommended textsMaths Isacson, “Humanization of Work in Scandinavia, 1960-1990. Strategies Against Problems of the Modern Industrial Work.” In: Nina Kleinöder, Stefan Muller, Karsten Uhl (eds.), Humanisierung Der Arbeit. Bielefeld: transcript Verlag, 2019. DOI: https://doi.org/10.14361/9783839446539-013.
Maths Isacson, “Fackföreningsrörelsen och näringslivets automatisering.” In: Daniel Bodén & Michael Godhe (eds.), AI, robotar och föreställningar om morgondagens arbetsliv. Lund: Nordic Academic Press, 2020. In particular, read pages 33-46 and 53-60.
AbstractThe presentation is based on two articles that deal with technical and organizational changes in industry in the Nordic region, especially in Sweden. During the period 1960-2020, Western industry went from rapid economic growth with mass production of standardized goods to stagnation, company closures, changes of ownership, digitization and specialization and a new period of economic growth. During the 1950s and 1960s, factory work was rationalized with automatic machine tools and transport systems as well as a far-reaching fragmentation of tasks. The companies had problems recruiting labor while the stress injuries and labor costs increased. Reform work was initiated by companies and trade unions in collaboration with researchers and the state to improve conditions and reduce costs. Self-governing groups and “whole work” were tried. After the deep industrial crisis in the 1990s, automation and digitization gained momentum, which opened for more flexible production in a rapidly growing global market. Adaptability became a key word for companies and individuals. Today, the concept lives on in the concept of “smart factories” where AI and strong brands are other key components.
QuestionsWhat attitudes has the Swedish (and other Nordic) trade union movements from the 1950s had to new technology? How have the unions acted to safeguard the interests of the members? Has the attitude and methods changed over time? Have the Nordic unions acted differently in any way?

How can AI today be thought to affect employment, occupational structure and qualifications? Can we learn lessons for our own time from the introduction of automatic machines on factory floors and offices from the late 1950s?