The industrial production method known as automation reduces the need for regular manual labor by having a large portion or all of the production process carried out by machines. It is a manufacturing method where robots are the only ones doing the bulk of the work, with humans acting as supervisors.
Automation denotes the level of technical development when most work is done by machines that are only remotely directed by humans. Once the machines that carry out the task have been built and installed, truly automated processes are closed systems that don’t need any human input. The development of the silicon chip computer considerably increased our ability to automate not just the production of commodities but also the handling of individuals. As automation develops, jobs requiring fundamental cognitive abilities, such as elementary reading and arithmetic, will become less common.
Sociologists are interested in how automation affects both the immediate employees affected and society as a whole. Robert Blauner asserted that mechanization would help people regain much of the job pleasure that individuals had lost during previous phases of mechanization in his seminal book Alienation and Freedom (1964).
Automation reduces the degrees of expertise and judgment required to complete activities, which is a counterargument that says it makes labor less intrinsically gratifying. A machine that requires relatively little talent may now be utilized to do tasks that formerly required a high level of competence, such as processing photographic images.
While the loss of unskilled physical labor and the concomitant increase in the number of white-collar employees may seem to be progressive changes, Harry Braverman contended that the trend was the opposite: white-collar workers were being proletarianized.
The social impact of automation, including whether it will result in higher unemployment rates and a general drop in the need for labor, has been the subject of sociological discussion.
It is difficult to provide a definitive assessment of the consequences of automation because we must weigh the impact of changes to specific occupations against the recognition that new ones are being generated. The process of processing images may have become less skilled, but this was only feasible because new, highly skilled employment is established in machine design. Although a high technology economy routinizes formerly complicated jobs, it also generates new labor in the creation and upkeep of the technology.
The impact of mechanization on the consciousness of individuals who use it has drawn sociologists’ attention. According to some sociologists, automation frees people from the more mundane components of work, allowing them to focus on the more creative aspects of employment, which reduces alienation. Others contend that when jobs become increasingly automated, and employees lose control over their labor, this furthers the alienation of automation.
There are different kinds of automation:
1. Transfer automation, which ties many machines together in a continuous process
2. methods for automating manufacturing with no feedback systems
3. computerization, in which computers machine algorithms manage complicated operations through feedback loops
Automation is a significant phenomenon in industrial sociology because it affects social interactions within workplaces and, in turn, participation in the production process. It also affects relationships between workers and their production tools and, consequently, the intrinsic value of human labor. Automation has served as an empirical reference in sociological theory concerning such essential concepts as alienation, deskilling, and the work process.