Date of Award

Spring 1987

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This dissertation focuses upon the relations of work in the housebuilding sector of the New Hampshire economy. While changing technology is integrated into the analysis, the primary concentration is upon the organization of work, which includes the development of the technical division of labor, supervision and structures of control, and the degrees of dependence or independence afforded the worker. The study is located within the theoretical context of the subordination of labor to capital. Analysts of the labor process have asserted that the formal subordination of labor to capital exists when private ownership and the relations of wage labor and capital have emerged, but control at the point of production remains with the workers. The real subordination of labor to capital requires a fundamental transformation of the labor process, the deskilling of workers, and the assertion of control of work relations by owners and managers.

This dissertation develops the contention that skill levels of carpenters have remained high, as has their degree in independence and control over the basic decisions of production, because residential construction in New Hampshire remains organized under the structure of the formal subordination of labor to capital. This organization of the industry is established in two empirical chapters, based on in-depth interviews with a small sample of carpenters and buildings contractors. The first empirical chapter establishes the dominance of the small firm and the untransformed nature of the labor process, while the second develops the position that although firms become more "business-like" as they grow in volume, even the largest firms in the state have not transformed the organization of work to a sufficient degree for the establishment of the real subordination of labor to capital. A third empirical chapter analyzes data which shows that organized resistance to construction management is minimal, and that this is attributable to the continued independence and incentives for the development of skills found in this sector.