Office Automation, Clerical Workers, and Labor Relations in the Insurance Industry

  • Daniel B. Cornfield
  • Polly A. Phipps
  • Diane P. Bates
  • Deborah K. Carter
  • Trudie W. Coker
  • Kathleen E. Kitzmiller
  • Peter B. Wood
Part of the Plenum Studies in Work and Industry book series (SSWI)


As “a major white-collar industry which pioneered in the application of office automation”1 in the early 1950s, the insurance industry altered the conditions of office work and the relations between clerical workers and management. A growing disjunction between office clerical workers and management in the insurance industry has accompanied office automation during the post-World War II era. As management automates the office to raise worker productivity and rationalize the clerical labor process2—that is, to formalize, standardize and quantify the control of labor—clerical workers, most of whom are women, increasingly express concern over employment conditions- and sex discrimination. Moreover, women clerical workers are beginning to unionize and affiliate with working women’s organizations, prompting management to introduce a human relations, social psychological managerial philosophy in order to preempt collective action of clerical workers. The disjunction, then, concerns the implementation of office automation, employment conditions and the divergent methods clerical labor and management have developed for management-labor discourse. In a context of occupational sex segregation, the disjunction is occurring simultaneously along class (management and labor) and gender lines.


Labor Relation Insurance Industry Real Earning Clerical Worker Office Automation 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel B. Cornfield
    • 1
  • Polly A. Phipps
    • 2
  • Diane P. Bates
    • 1
  • Deborah K. Carter
    • 1
  • Trudie W. Coker
    • 1
  • Kathleen E. Kitzmiller
    • 1
  • Peter B. Wood
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of SociologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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