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Technical Workers in a Newly Industrialising Economy: The Work Experience of Engineers in Singapore

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This study looks at the work experience and work related problems of engineers in the specific context of Singapore's political economy. Data was drawn from in-depth interviews and a survey of 250 engineers working in the country's top 20 electronic multinationals. Despite the optimism of visionaries regarding the future of work in high-tech societies it is argued that "knowledge workers" like engineers armed with years of professional training do not necessarily lead idyllic lives. On the contrary, for a large proportion of this elite corps, normal worklife is constituted by overwork, keeping to unrealistic deadlines and generally experiencing moderate to extreme levels of stress over a large number of situations in the workplace. This subjective aspect of working life is probably the result of the declining position of engineers in the class structure. Globalization, dependent wage work and organizational hierarchies have been identified as primary reasons for this trend of development.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Sociology, National University of Singapore, Singapore 0511


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