The work situation and class position of Brazilian engineers

  • A.L. Marques

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis analyses the work situation and class position of Brazilian engineers through a Marxist perspective. The research is based on two case studies, one focused on a large German steel company based in Brazil and the other on a large Brazilian energy corporation. The fieldwork involved 114 interviews, with engineers from different hierarchical positions in these two companies. Data was also gathered through interviews with representatives from the companies, the Council of Engineering, the Engineering Education System and the Engineers Trade Unions. The findings show that the engineering profession in Brazil has shifted from its initial condition as a liberal profession to an organizational profession, with the country's industrial deployment. Both companies consider all salaried workers as employees, including managers. Hence they are subject to the company's general personnel policies. The multinational company controls labour more rigidly than the national company, as well as reserving its top positions for its home country's executives. Although no deskilling process was found, engineers of both companies performed simple work, which required less engineering knowledge than they had learned from school. Engineers have little autonomy, authority and participation in decision making and are subject to direct supervision, performance evaluation, time control, overtime work, productivity and to poor working conditions in the multinational company. The majority of the engineers supervised other workers without being in a managerial position. They found that to move into management, was a good way to improve their autonomy, authority, prestige, salary, status, power and professional pride. Despite ideological divisions between capital and labour, most of the engineers were unionised and saw unions as the right way to deal with the employer.
Date of AwardJan 1993
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorChristopher M Smith (Supervisor)


  • technical workers
  • management control
  • professionalism
  • trade unionism
  • multinationals

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