World Without Workers: Prime Time’s Presentation of Labor

The recently released Machinists’ television study confirms Mij Lieberthal observation that television maligns workers and their unions. The study concludes that the contributions of work, workers and unions to society are grossly underestimated and distorted. The purpose of this paper is not to disagree with the observations. Rather, this paper argues that television’s contribution to the distorted image of the worker may be more complex than previously suggested and that the research efforts of organized labor should focus on the beliefs, attitudes, and values portrayed, modeled, and reinforced by television programs, as well as the blatant defamation of labor and overtly unflattering stereotypes. The working hypothesis of this paper is that prime-time television situation comedies and dramas present an upper-middle-class picture of work and workers that generally ignores rather than maligns workers and organizations. They portray the picture of life of labors in the United States of America.
Author: Johnson, Ralph Arthur. Associate Professor, Center for Labor Education and Research, University of Alambama, Birmingham.
Source: Labor Studies Journal; Winter81, Vol. 5 Issue 3, p199, 8p

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