Industry 4.0: Robotics and Contradictions

  • Sabine Pfeiffer
Part of the Dynamics of Virtual Work book series (DVW)


Pfeiffer argues that the Industry 4.0 debate, as a result of developments in robotics, regards human labour as replaceable, especially in the areas of production and assembly, which are often held to consist largely of routine tasks. The author nonetheless shows how current labour market predictions concerning the replaceability of human labour are inadequate. On the basis of qualitative studies, she outlines the crucial significance of non-routine activity in highly automated environments. These qualitative findings are then used to create the labour capacity index (LC), which is then applied to a quantitative dataset of 20,000 German employees. The analysis highlights the importance of non-routine work even within highly automated and robotics-dependent areas of mechanical and automotive engineering and typical occupations today. The empirical data supports the theoretical contention that the contradiction between the use value and exchange value of labour cannot be resolved through increasing digitisation.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sabine Pfeiffer
    • 1
  1. 1.Nuremberg Campus of Technology (NCT)Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-NürnbergNürnbergGermany

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