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Lecture 6

Lecture 6 - Social Theory on Work and Health

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Sociology 3308F/G
Kim Shuey

Lecture 6: Social Theory on Work and Health Hodson: Dignity at Work  Dignity: the ability to establish a sense of self-worth and self-respect and to appreciate the respect of others  Meaningful work essential for human dignity o Being ale to take pride in the work we do, our accomplishment sin the sphere of work  Workplaces have the ability to deny dignity and infringe on well-being What Does „Dignity at Work‟ Mean?  Marx: o Denial of dignity in modern society form control of labour by capitalists and exploitation of workers o Leads to alienation from meaningful work  Crux of Marx‟s argument: o Laws of capitalism require exploitation of workers („the misery of work in a capitalist economy‟)  If capitalists are not exploiting their workers, they will be overtaken by those capitalists who do exploit their workers o Work alienating rather than expansion of human ability o Creates a feeling of misery and exhaustion  Durkheim: o Capitalism is the root of the problem and creates anomie o We need a shared moral code based on a collective conscious o Occupational associations  Give direction and meaning to work  Acts as a safeguard against abuse, exploitation, and overwork  Weber: o Evils of bureaucracy  Hierarchies  Fixed division of labour  Sets of general rules o Each worker was a cog in the machine, which was bad for creativity and dignity Hodson: Dignity at Work  Creates a theory of dignity and work  Challenges to working with dignity: o Mismanagement and abuse  The treatment of workers form management and the way the workplace is organized is more important to the dignity of workers than what they are actually doing  The environment and experience and the way workers are treated/managed that is the most important factor for preserving dignity o Overwork  Marx: overthrow capitalism (Hodson doesn‟t agree)  Durkheim: new normative order arising from bargaining  Protection of dignity comes from workers‟ demands articulated at the societal level through politics and organizational level through union activities  Dignitary at work is essential for a well-lived life with meaning – essential of being human but is difficult to achieve  Role of social and workplace safety Occupational Health and Safety Policies  Context of policy development  Health and safety standards expensive for companies and resistance to implement them in many cases  Represents a struggle for power between large, influential companies and the government  History and development o No norms against children working o As technology developed, the pace of work increased as well o A push to speed work up and increase work activity but no increase in health and safety o The main industries that were developing during the early part of the industrial revolution were very profitable, large industries that had a lot of power, national pull/representation o Struggle against these large powerful interests of employers in opposition from relatively powerless employees Two Types of Regulation  Self regulation o Companies were facing an increasing amount of lawsuits that were presented by workers o Trying to avoid having regulations posed upon them o Industry put in place self regulation policies in the early 1900 o Steel industry was self regulated o “Voluntary safety movement” developed within the steel industry  One of the biggest things that came out of this was the idea of worker‟s compensation: given a fixed amount for death or injury only under the circumstances that no lawsuits would be started - no fault compensation system o By 1920 in Canada we have workers compensation boards  Administrative regulation o Government sets standards for health and safety and tries to enforce them o History of employers resisting that involvement – argued their profits were threatened by regulation and that the government shouldn‟t have involvement in worker-employee relationships o Ham Commission Report  In the late 1960s, unions were supporting workers‟ criticisms for the lack of safety regulations within the workplace  Ultimately, they forced the government to update their health and safety laws and make them more uniform  A turning point in 1974 in Ontario: Elliot Lake  Uranium mine causing high rates of lung diseases among the miners  The miners went on strike over the health and safety conditions  The report included more than 100 recommendation about health and safety changes in the workplace to protect workers‟ health and safety and also concerned how to ensure this is followed in the workplace  Developed an internal responsibility system: made up of multiple players (employers,
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