Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Poetry at Work, Chapter 9: The Poet in the Culture of Control

For most of the 20thcentury, the structure of corporations was based on the technology of mass production. It was a command-and-control model, with managers directing workers, who had a very specific task to accomplish. It was not unlike the military.

In the 1970s, that structure began to break down. It was almost odd – an organizational model that had survived two world wars and the Great Depression was breaking down for what appeared to be smaller factors. Inflation raged almost out control (I remember a prime lending rate of 21 percent); oil embargoes were turning major industries like petroleum refining, chemical manufacturing, and automobiles on their heads. National psychological blows happened as well, contributing to the disruptive environment – the Watergate crisis, the end of the Vietnam War, and the Iranian revolution that led to Americans being held hostage for more than a year. The reckoning started in the 1980s, as company after company reorganized (over and over again), laid people off (over and over again), and often went out of business altogether. At the end of the 1980s, Tim Berners-Lee invented what would become the worldwide web.

It was an unsettled time to work for a large company.

To continue reading, please see my post at Literary Life.

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