Job Satisfaction and Alienation Among Medical Imaging Specialists:
A Field Study
Research on the effects of technology in the workplace has resulted in what has become a still-unresolved deskilling versus upgrading controversy. Those on the upgrading side believe that the work machines do involves repetitive and simple physical movements or decisions, so automation most easily replaces already deskilled repetitious labor, resulting in an overall upgrading of worker skills. However, the hypothesis of this study is that mechanization and automation have become increasingly sophisticated and are now replacing the skilled sector of the workforce, leading to alienation and job dissatisfaction. This study also enlarges the discussion to place technological change within the context of other workplace trends, such as the ongoing process of rationalization and globalization. Although the work of medical imaging specialists is continuing to change with the introduction of increasingly sophisticated and complex technologies, such as diagnostic ultrasound, computerized tomography, and magnetic resonance imaging, the skills of the specialist are being degraded, leading to alienation among the workforce. Additionally, it was found that the medical imaging specialists are not passive objects in the workforce but are actively engaged in making their work environment less alienating.
“ ... If the trends in the hospital which are the object of this case study continue to play out, the future appears to be moving in the direction of a more alienated work environment for its medical imaging specialists. The most important trend observed was an increase in technical complexity and sophistication, which in the case of medical imaging specialists has led to a more minute division of labor. This is, at least in part, a consequence of the separate licensing requirements for different machines. Technologists often are licensed to work with a single machine (for example, X-ray machines, CT scanners, MRIs), limiting their ability to diversify their skills and thereby contributing to their sense of alienation from their work. Even high-technology workers are not free from the alienation that results from increasingly bureaucratized work settings ... By examining the education of medical imaging specialists, conducting a field study of technologists in the workplace, and engaging in intensive interviews of medical imaging specialists, this study provides an opportunity to explore and describe job satisfaction and alienation in the occupation. Dr. Donahue’s study makes an important contribution to our understanding of the sociology of work, particularly in the new, technology-dependent occupations that are arising as the United States transitions from an industrial to a service economy.” – (from the Foreword) Professor Richard P. Appelbaum, University of California-Santa Barbara
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ISBN10: 0-7734-5730-5 ISBN13: