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Title: Operational research and the forces of production : a marxist analysis of science and ideology.
Author: Hales, M.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3524 4150
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1978
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This study in the history and political philosophy of science a t tempts a novel analysis of a practice in management science , operational research ( OR), based on a marxis t theory of practice. This analysis draws on a survey of methodological writing , interviews with OR practitioners and leading professional figures (mostly British), a survey of debates on professional ma t t ers , and the aut hor's own experience as an OR worker. It is an att empt to contribute to the theory (and thence , prac t i ce) of class struggl e in monopoly capi talism, especially in the SI1ctors of work carried out by the "New Middle Class", and covers not only OR (directly) but also (indirectly) the policy sciences, scientifi c work in general, and workers' counter-science. Directed in part to marxists with a morethan- theoretical interest, this study is also intended for methodologically inclined OR workers who care about the results of their work. The thesis embodies a materialist analysis of the politics of knowledge production, and shows how the historical sp ecificity of OR (especially in relation to Tayl orism) can be defined. Problems of "praxis", "technical rationality", and the class content of science are dealt with through a theoretical structure which incorporates a non-reductionist concept of the contradictory material articulation of the forces and relations of production. As a whole, the argwnent tries to approach the problem of constituting a revolutionary practice of subjective socialisation of labour, in opposi tion to capital's revolutionisation of the objective socialisation of labour. The study shows the contradictory nature of "the systems approach", how the insights of this approach (concerning the r elations of theory and pra ctice, "neutrality", and dialogue in the production of knowledge) are subordinated within an approach based on measurement, and how OR takes the form of a scientistic politics. The r elative strengths of this analysis are summ ~: ised with respect to Habermas' theory 0f cognitive interests, Althusser's concepts of theoretical, political and ideological practices, Sohn-Rethel's theory of the division of mental and manual labour in Taylorism, and recent work on the capitalist labour-process. One of the main conclusio ~~ '1 is that, to the extent that a concept of the unity of the forceb and relations of production is worked out at the level of specific scientific practices (as in this study) the content and mutual relations of the r elations of produ ction themselves become problematic; and thus, that theories of class struggle at the level of t he labourprocess must move ahead carefully. The study ends with an opt :Lrnistic speculation on the future of operational research as a possi.le mode of revolutionary practice.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available