Metatheory- looking at sociological theory and the assumptions within them.
Foundational issues to consider- social life, scientific knowledge, social life.
Frye‘s three levels:
o Contemplative (intellect observing+ classifying, emotions determine how we feel about what we
are observing. Separate)
o Active (if contemplation is unsatisfactory, wanting to create change. Intellect + emotions
combined together- world sociologists study)
o Imaginative (Look at what we‘ve done, not the way imagined it. You then imagine how the
world can be a much better place. Nothing happens, we‘d have to go back to action level to
The mind (intellect and emotions) is involved at each level, where intellect is the basis for science and
emotions are the basis to the arts.
Science and the Arts seem completely divergent, but they do converge in some ways. There is a role that
language plays in sciences, and how we engage with the world. Sociology is a scientific enterprise.
Science: intellect, observation and classification, regularities, progresses in accuracy of understanding
the world and utility, draws upon creativity of emotions and imagination to create theories and
models, language is a critical dimension of science.
Arts: emotions, limitless potential (imaginative capacity is limitless, in the realm of action it is as well if
you have the right tools), comparative standards of excellence, employs aspects of reality and life
experience with imagination.
Sociology: (1) also committed to analysis like science- it analyses the world in which we live, as it is
empirically based. The social world is relatively enduring, as it will change. (2) Language and creativity
are critical. The terms we use that make sociology such a complex science. (3) The ―domain‖ of
sociology is the level of ―action‖ as we try to humanize the world.
Kuhn (scientific paradigms): rejected ―development-by-accumulation‖ (series of observations lead to
new framework, more observations, etc.) explanation for scientific progress. For him, all scientists use
the same scientific framework, and as they observe the world, they find observations that do not fit.
They either ignore it, or adopt it into their paradigm. There will be a revolution when there are too many
anomalies in the old theory. He argues that language and theory are important to scientific progress.
Scientists work with facts that are filtered through a theoretical framework. Sociologists do the same
Foucault argues that before we can observe anything, we have to have some framework within which we
recognize order. To function, we need an ordering system. The categories we use are socially
Foucault‘s episteme: ―fundamental code of a culture‖: the episteme we operate in organizes our
perception about history (change, progress). All areas of knowledge produce and perceive order on the
basis of the same episteme. Our current modern episteme is rooted in process, action, and change.
Sociology‘s Orthodox consensus: no single paradigm has fully dominated sociology. In the late 1940s,
60s, structural-functionalism and naturalism dominated.
Talcott Parsons is positioned in a place, and develops what is seen as a comprehensive theory. Almost
everyone used his theory as most people agreed that a structural-functionalist framework and a naturalist
way of approaching it, dominated. He adopts a scientific approach to social phenomena. His work
encompasses what there is to know about the social world, and the emphasis shifted to the social system.
His over-emphasis of order however was challenged by Conflict Theory that opposes structural-
functional emphasis. He doesn‘t take into account the underlying conflicts, had too much emphasis on
integration, authority and order. Does not address that it is an unstable whole.
Over-emphasis of social integration, which was challenged by micro-theories that challenge the over-
socialization of individual. In his theory, human beings merely fulfill roles. There is no agency in
Parsons‘ theory, which opened up studying the micro-level/
1 Metatheory: systematic study of sociological theory. Notion of micro/macro, structure/human agency.
The objects under study in sociology differs fundamentally as they do not exist independently of human
action. Sociologists study what is created by intellect and emotions, we have to identify what we will
study as sociologists. Because what we study are creations, when we identify something it has both a
substantive component to it and an evaluative component. For example, people in the paid labour force-
workers, or employees? Workers has a Marxist tone, employees has a bureaucratic tone. There is no
way I can identify people in the paid labour force, without politicizing. Anything that we identify has an
evaluative dimension to it.
Each time we identify something, it will be contested. People will debate over terms used and how they
are linked together. Parsons‘ consensus dominated sociology, but was always critically assessed by
Alexander notes that because of the nature of the object‘s studied, sociology is a discourse. There is a
focus of reasoning, persuading through argument, logical coherence, insight, and value-relevance, how
words are being put together. Because of this, sociology is a science and an art.
Frye: looks at language and critiques its construction and systems. He goes into detail about the convergence
about science, art and the sociological imagination.
Kuhn: Explains the creation of ways in which we gain scientific knowledge.
Foucault: Discusses episteme (principles that order our world, where our knowledge comes from). Through his
genealogical approach, he notes how episteme change and shift from time to time.
Talcott Parsons: Was a structural-functionalist. He investigated and created an understanding of a social matrix,
and in each matrix there are three elements- substance, time and place.
Bourdieu: We need detail on common knowledge, because it is not really common, there are many details
underneath that we take for granted. When we take this common sense knowledge for granted, we end up with
huge mistakes, large consequences, and social issues.
Thinking Sociologically Continued
Micro/macro: Latour‘s notion that there is a conundrum in sociology. Where do you start? You start at
the micro level, but this is being shaped by a larger shape of social structures, so you move up to the
macro level, but it is too abstract, so you return to the micro which also has abstractions. Continually
going back from personal biography to issues of social structure. Soc. must bring these together.
Alexander and Giesen: if you look at micro/macro relationship, it falls under categories. A rational actor
using reason to create world around them. (Sheldono Cooper) Interpretive actor assesses what goes on
and creates meaning, creating world around them (Penny). Someone who has been socialized: way
person acts depends on social facts that have moulded them. Mainly micro-> macro.
Latour says the actor is created before he or she creates the action. They have been socialized to think in
a specific way. Roles socialized into us, we then follow through in creating the world around us based
on how we‘re socialized.
It‘s more coercive than that. We are constrained by power.
Munch & Smelser: micro is happening at individual level, for them macro is what‘s going on in the
group. Beamish as individual, and the macro is the lecture class. For them, micro relationships involves
patterned exchanges (weekly lectures) and encounters (meeting someone). There are different ways to
describe it: communication, exchange, cooperation and conflict. Macro- is structures of society. Not
always the huge macro structure of Canadian society, it can be things like a group. Sustained by
mechanisms of social control that create opportunities and constraints.
Wanting to build an integrated theory for the social world. They can be a dialectical relation. The real
world is quite relational, so we need a conceptual framework that will allow us to understand this
relational world. Science and art of terms and conceptual grasp. It does involve a create mind to analyze,
grasp, and change the social world. Micro/macro should synthetically be brought together.
2 At micro level, like any other hockey game, he simply scored. There is a macro context, within the team
itself, or between Canada and Russia. Micro element (guy calling someone off ice so he could go
because he usually scores winning goals) that created the macro phenomenon. They are all in a sense
Structure and Agency
Social structure- macro
Wants to bring structure and agency into an integrated framework. Social practices ordered across space
and time (i.e. that hockey game), a continuous flow of conduct. Often, social actions are recursive, and
are self-reproducing items in nature (but always a little bit different-goals aren‘t all identical).
We are quite predictable because social action tends to be recursive. Reoccurs over and over and over,
within limits of what we do on a regular basis. Social action must be originally produced, before we can
reproduce it. If we stop acting, the action stops, and nothing happens. Emotion and intellect come
Big bang theory exemplifies many phenomenon. They actually have to produce the action of taking
pictures before comicon, they draw upon their knowledge of each of the Star Trek characters, that comes
from accumulated knowledge that is recursive. Posing as Charlie‘s Angels, writers draws on our
knowledge, but they are probably thinking of it as serious.
Theory of structuration: human agents are knowledgeable, and we have two levels of knowledge:
Sheldon gives discursive analysis of what happens in football. Leonard articulates discursively what‘s
going on the field. Penny gets mad because people don‘t talk about this tacit knowledge.
(1) Tacit knowledge can be articulated, but not usually. We usually just draw from it.
Knowledge both enables things to happen as well as constrain them.
Second part where their car is stolen, Sheldon says that stealing is against the law. (2) The law is a set of
practical, discursive relationships. It has heavy sanctioned tied to them, but it is really the informal non-
articulated forms of knowledge that tend to structure our behaviour.
We tend to reflexively monitor what is going on. First half when they are posing, they are monitoring
what they are doing. Howard and Leonard know what the moves are supposed to be like, draw on their
tacit abilities to recreate those moves. Sheldon in his rational logic way of dealing with the world, what
he does is completely off the charts for what is supposed to be a sexy scene. Howard reflexively
monitors how sexy he must like, he is also monitoring what goes on around him, like the car door slam.
Although it is subconscious, we continually survey our own actions, as well as the whole social space
we are involve with.
Reflexive monitoring, no one would pick them up because they look crazy. Everyone else tacitly knows
what to do, and put up their thumbs to hitchhike, but Sheldon does not have this informal, tacit
knowledge, as he waves to cars to stop for him. It is an unconscious, automatic, chronic process, which
automatically asses our conduct, the actions of others, and the spaces of which we are acting.
Notion that knowledge and social action enable and constrain. Formulated rules (reason, Sheldon),
versus non-formulated rules (tacit knowledge). Waitress shows tacit knowledge of Star Trek. Sheldon
has lack of tacit knowledge of how to go on in the world like a normal person would. We do not expect
him to what he does. How important tacit knowledge is for the production + reproduction of action.
Developed the theory of structuration as one of the more noteworthy attempts to integrate micro and
macro through and integrate conception of agency and structure.
3 His conception of social life starts from an integrated position: ―The basic domain of study of the social
sciences is the social practices ordered across space and time.‖
Social action must be seen as ―a continuous flow of conduct‖. As a result, sociology should focus on the
recursive nature of human activities.
A recursive practice is something that recurs or reoccurs. Social action is recursive because we do not
create, constitute, or carry out our actions every time we act. We draw upon past practices, knowledge
and ways of acting. So out of the many of ways to potentially act, we draw from our existing stocks of
knowledge and action and tend to reproduce patterns of action far more than we create completely new
Social action is recursive because we draw upon existing knowledge, the ways we‘ve learned to carry on
in a particular situation. Drawing upon past knowledge does not make the action exactly like all
previous actions its highly reproductive. As we act, we monitor our actions to ensure we are behaving
the way we intended and getting the responses or outcomes we anticipate. If our action seems to be a
little bit off, or if the responses are not what we anticipated, we adjust our actions accordingly.
He argues that individuals are highly sophisticated, knowledgeable agents. They draw upon 2 types of
knowledge: (1) is conscious knowledge (discursive knowledge), knowledge that we can explain to
others. (2) Is more subconscious, it‘s our practical knowledge which we can‘t always explain to others,
we just simply know what to do or how to respond in a given situation. Because we draw upon
previously experience and discursive knowledge, the knowledge required for social action is not
contingent upon human action, it exists before we act. It structures, shapes and constitutes our action. In
this way, knowledge enables us to act but it also constrains how we act. We act in accordance with how
we should act. Our actions are not random and unpredictable unless we choose in a particular situation,
to demonstrate deliberately bizarre or unexpected behaviour. The notion of knowledge enabling and
constraining leads into Giddens notion of ―Duality of Structure‖.
Giddens develops his idea from linguistics.
The ―Reflexive Monitor‖ of action is a reflex. It is an unconscious, automatic, chronic process, which
automatically or assess our conduct, the actions of others, and the spaces of which we are acting.
Because our specific actions take place within a larger social context, and we cant possibly monitor
everything, our actions usually lead to our intended outcomes, but there are also many intended
outcomes that often occur as well. It is the impact of the entire context of action and the potential
unintended outcomes of our actions that make social action recursive but not perfectly reproductive.
The final aspect of Structuration Theory is Power and Agency. We most often associate power with
macro social institutions but Giddens maintains that power is ontological to human action. Human
action only occurs when someone does something or when someone chooses not to act. Even individuals
who appear completely powerless, thought heir agency, can manifest power. Protestors clogging city
streets, paralyzing heavy armed states, is just one example of apparently powerless people seeking an
intended outcome with the most meager of means possible, being successful, at least successful to a
(1) Seeks to uncover the hidden structure of the various social worlds which constitute the social whole.
(2) he sees sociology as a science of human practice in its diverse manifestation and as a science that
allows for critiquing of dominating critical of: everyday stocks of knowledge, and patterns of power
(3) his sociology is anti-dualistic: he is aware of and wants to convey integrated nature, micro/macro,
(4) his desire to overcome the duality of objectivism and subjectivism.
3 key concepts under which is sociology is organized:
(1) Field: think of a football field. A field is a specific area: it could be for example: the economy, the
political world, the field of science, etc…In that area, which is both a physical, social, and conceptual
4 space, there are players with different abilities and aspirations. All fields in contemporary society are
hierarchical. Some individuals (players) have more ability than others; some have power. The players
use various types of capital as they compete for advantage, power, recognition, distinction, and ranking.
The field is in many ways the structural aspect of his sociological ranking.
(2) Capital: the hierarchy of each field, is based on the different types of capital the players possess.
Economic capital (money and property), Social capital (connections and benefits within a field),
Cultural capital (specific types of knowledge, status one enjoys within the field, and how one
distinguishes on self from others), Symbolic capital (one‘s symbolic representation of themselves within
a field). Depending on the field, will depend on the ranking of the different types of capital.
(3) Habitus: refers to a system of dispositions: knowledge and skills that dispose us to act in one way
and not another. This aspect is quite profound. It is both our formal discourse of knowledge as well as
our unconscious knowledge of what to do in a particular situation. It is through one‘s habitus that
individual planned strategies and to succeed within a field. It makes us feel at home in a particular field,
or out of place in another.
He recognized that human agents, at an unconscious level, reflexively monitor their actions and
activities on an ongoing basis. This is no less true of sociologists applying their craft. At the same time
however, sociologists must consciously reflect upon their approach to the study of social action. This is
the theme that Bourdieu addresses directly.
In homoacademicus, Bourdieu consciously studies the field of the social sciences. It is a critical
sociology of sociology.
Bourdieu emphasizes the need to reflexively monitor the scientific enterprise. To reflexively monitor
sociology, there are 3 key elements:
o 1. Sociologists must be critically conscious of how they are constructing their objects of study. A
process he terms ―objectivation‖. This has been a dominant theme throughout this chapter.
o 2. Bourdieu argues that reflexive sociology should objectify sociologists themselves.
Sociologists must critically study what other sociologists do in the field: what are their strengths
and weaknesses, as the producers of scientific knowledge?
o 3. Our reflexive sociology should locate sociological knowledge within the larger field of social
Sociology of Work- Part 1
Labour in general- Marx and the ontology of work. Bees create honey, pollen. Spiders create webs.
Using our extremities for labour for ourselves. Labour for daily life, acting as species being.
Valorization- when we use labour within the capital machine, it is valorization because we are using
labour for others. Creating surplus for capital.
Species being- everyone must contribute their own labour, labour is the ontology of humankind. More
describing us individually, but social makes work seem more interconnected.
Labour- act of doing work. You need workers, and work to be done. It is always changing, you must
develop new ideas, etc. Individual level.
Labour power- People who do the labour. People coming together to perform a task. Generation of
surplus. Takes the individuality of labour, and changes it to hundreds of people in a factory where the
labour power is exponential compared to one person.
Labour process- the way we work expands and changes. All three work to keep the process active, and
up to date. How it changes and develops. Makes jobs easier, which goes back and effects the individual
of labour, the power, and the process.
Emphasis on how important work is to the individual. Work is central to our daily lives.
5 Perceptions of work change, it is a public issue of social structure. During economic growth, ideas of
shortened workweeks and increased leisure time.
Smith‘s The Wealth of Nations. Establishes ideology of a free market society, but was much more than
that. He was a moral philosopher. What happens to that wealth? How it is created and distributed is his
Bourdieu‘s sociology: quest for human dignity. Propose changes to the world for a dignified life for
everyone. Becomes a framework of moral processes.
Alienation: the quest for humanity is the quest for fulfillment. If we fail to fulfill our creative potential,
the world of work is letting us down.
Difference between the human and natural orders, and what that means for the general labour process,
and what that means for the sociology of work.
Humankind is an organism of nature, part of the natural order- direct, concrete, and thingly. For example
my cells dividing, living and breathing, I do not have to consciously think of these things. Subject to the
natural processes, it is fundamental to us.
The human order is different than the natural order too, we have a mediated relationship with the natural
world, as there is a process of consciousness. We plan our interactions with the natural world.
The recursive processes of nature: mitosis or meiosis. Processes dictated by material processes of
oxygen, etc. It happens again and again, virtually the same without deviation (unless an unhealthy
The recursive practices of the human order require knowledge and while largely reproductive in the flow
of conduct producing the action are not perfectly reproductive.
The human order is a complex place (micro/macro, agency/structure, formal/informal rules,
discursive/practical consciousness, enable/constrain, field/habitus, types of capital
Human action is teleological. We humanize the world through action. There is an endpoint, we plan for
that endpoint by drawing upon our practical knowledge in order to make the changes we want.
Labour in general-Enumerated the same process as central to human engagement with the world.
The externalization and objectification of ideas in the labour process, humans learn about themselves,
nature, and what humankind can and cannot achieve.
Without action, nothing will change. Action is preceded by knowledge (practical and discursive). absolute knowledge.
Marx reads Hegel, shifts the whole theory of alienation to one that focuses around the central issue in
sociology: the quest for human fulfillment, the full creative expressive power of humanity.
Objectification process, sees how dialectically integrated that is, but also within the capitalist world, that
the creative process creates goods and the worker as a commodity- all oriented towards profit for the
entrepreneur. Hardly the full creative potential of that process.
7 Within sociology of work, the ones most appealing are the ones with biggest creativity aspect, and
freedom to learn.
State of alienation, where we are not creating goods that allow us to flourish, but we are subject to that
The world of work is one where there are tremendous inequities.
Role of discourse, he uses terms that can be used to assess the world of work in which we live.
Marx does not agree with Hegel completely: the main spring to history for Marx is real material labour
not philosophical thought. He mentioned that through different vocabulary, Hegel is able to grasp the
essence of labour to preserve objectification of humankind as the result of its own labour. This is a good
example of how the use language creates a particular discourse that then conceptualizes our
understanding of the world.
Sociology of Work Part 2
The Employer-Labour Process-Employee Relationship (see book charts)
Different employer inputs/ employee inputs. (habitus or resources) each have motives/interests
Employee: All of these things are part of the creative process emphasized last week; labour
Employer: access to the materials employees need. They have more capital; process
The employer supplies machinery, technology, and tools, while the employee provides materials to be
worked on, a place of work, and human action.
The employer only purchases their ability to do work which gives the employer considerable power over
The employee is the person who is inseparable from their capacity of work, real live people are
Micro level: and employee with specific skills, knowledge, and physical ability, who has particular
motives, interests, goals and ambitions is hired. To meet the work obligations, employees surrender full
personal autonomy and agree to put forth and acceptable amount of effort. Over the work day,
employees tire, and even the most technological job suffers some level of impairment. Loss of autonomy
and freedom, fatigue, and impairment, are the immediate costs at this level of the individual worker.
There are also experience a the missal level in a factory, office, or other place of work and represent the
social costs of paid work at the macro social level. On the other hand, the employer possesses capital
and resources, holds certain personal and corporate motives of interests, and offers the employee money,
some intrinsic satisfactions, and elements of security, status, and a career. At the same time, at the macro
level, employers on the whole possess, allocate, and offer resources and opportunities to workers.
Thereby structuring or for the most part producing and reproducing the existing employer-labour
process-employee relationship and the grand scheme of the society as a whole.
Macro level: influences the relationship as it creates the opportunities and conditions that lead to become
employers, while others become employees. Employer and employee aspirations and opportunities are
shaped by the social patterns of resource distribution. In the study of work, these involve the material
and social assets that initially position some to become employers and others to become employees. But
money alone does not put one at the top of the corporate hierarchy. Ones world view, skills, and
connections, life experiences, and education are also critical. These are all encompassed in the 4
different types of capital that Bourdieu identifies.
Come together in the labour process which is central.
There are also social forces shaping individual‘s resources, aspirations, worldview: social facts- gender,
racial background, education, family dynamics, residence, media exposure, etc. Larger social
framework. Bourdieu‘s notion of habitus, my disposition is influenced by these things (note: cultural
capital is knowledge). Bourdieu‘s four types of capital drawn from this level.
Different experiences and social variables determines where you fall: employee or employer.
8 There are major employee or employer expectations. There are trade-offs that we are willing to make,
for example financial reward vs. intrinsic reward on behalf of employee. Pass on cultural capital, for
money to purchase more material goods.
Market forces- employee wishes to maximize rewards/ employer pressures to minimize costs and
maximize productivity- gain efficiency.
Overall dynamic of the relationship. When you put all the pieces together, 1) complexity of the
relationship 2) sense of a dynamic tension.
The “Culture” of Work
Foucault‘s ―technology of power‖: there are all these different power relationships that develop the way
we work and behave. Shift from feudal to disciplinary society.
―Docile bodies‖: Ideal of an employer. Perfect employee would be completely compliant. It overstates
the impacts of discipline.
Culture of work that has been socially engrained in us (society as a whole), passed onto you. Making the
body more obedient and thus more useful; more useful because it is more obedient.
Increases productive forces in the body; decreases resistant forces.
Power and aptitude increased while self-determination and self-realization reduced.
Work ethic: 1) body that is obedient-> useful
Army: obedience instilled overtly. Once a new person arrives, they kind of notice the rules by following
other people‘s behaviour/ what is expected of them (docile bodies).
Education: subtly disciplined into becoming punctual, recognizing an authority figure, time
management. These make children more useful employees in the long run, or a more successful
employer in the long run.
In the social network, the table system is used. People creating code in same room. Intrinsic wish for
Look at week notes for soldiering. Put in place separate tasks with explicit orders.
Created the principles of scientific management which stem from 3 basic premises: (1) Utilitarianism:
individuals pursuing their particular interests would together pursue the interests of all, (2) that people
always resisted change until they saw its personal benefit, (3) a scientific approach to the managing
industry would benefit both employers and employees.
He saw inefficiency in through what he called ―natural soldiering‖ due to humankinds inherent laziness.
As well as through ―systematic soldiering‖ which was more problematic.
Systematic soldiering: skilled workers spread their work out over longer periods of time. This leads
Taylor to say we need to separate planning and production. All you would need now is workers that can
perform specific tasks.
His solution was to separate the planning process from the work process so that management knew what
was required in a task and could plan accordingly.
Get people to make them focus on specific tasks, company as a whole would be more profitable. If you
become a docile body, I‘ll pay you more because you will be more efficient. A fair day‘s work=a fair
―Task idea‖- workers‘ tasks clearly specified and how to carry them out.
Outcomes of Taylorism
reduced size of workforce (efficiency and technology)
process of ―deskilling‖: head and hand labour separated; planning consolidated in managements.
Increased white collar workforce.
9 Mass Production
From Scientific Management to the Fordist assembly line.
Interchange ability of parts from model A to model T
Standardized auto parts/ standardized quality of product
Easier for assembler to do the same thing over and over, parts brought to them.
His real success was not the moving assembly line, significant as that was, but the complete interchange
ability of parts and the simplicity of attaching them to each other. Consistency, standardization,
complete interchange ability, and simplicity completely revolutionized all methods of production.
All materials rationed and calculated.
His assembly line controlled the pace of work, allowed him to know how long production would take
and thus control his parts inventory, letting employ low-skilled workers at wage levels that maintained
their loyalty to Ford, and allowed him to invest his large profits into better technology.
Technology to make the job easier, starts to run the assembly line.
General Manager: Alfred Sloan
Model of integrated corporation. Moving up the ladder, upward mobility of complex, integrated
Rational system of assessing performance. Assess how efficient you are. Efficient=promotions, less
Self-disciplining process to become more productive employee.
Five model product range from Chevy to Cadillac. An array of cars, each one and annual adjustments.
The year suggests your social standing.
Impact of Unionization
Two logics of collective action. Impact of market on employers trying to decrease costs, and what this
means to structuring/controlling the workplace. Same market puts pressure on employees to bargain for
better wages, better working conditions, as an individual or a collective.
Emphasize (1) face of unionized workers is the blue-collar automotive worker. The face of organized
labour has changed since then- now white-collar female workers in one of the service sectors. Face of
collective bargaining. (2) As occupational structure has shifted, there are now so many women involved
in growing white sector, large part in unions.
Unionization has really helped female employees because of the wage gap that tends to exist between
male and female employees. It has helped mitigate the wage gap.
The difference b/w someone who is in a union and someone who is not, if they are of the same gender
and background, there is not much of a difference, just 14%.
Employer inputs: primary organizer of labour force, capital exists as a fluid resource, can plan for
negotiations. How homogeneous or heterogeneous his employees will be. Becomes important later for
employees forming a collective bargaining unit. More heterogeneous=harder to come to an agreement in
Employees: human/labour power inseparable, this is a challenge for the employer. Union is secondary
organizer of labour force. History of work association, entire spectrum of needs/want, you cannot reduce
fundamental needs. A strike or a lockout has a long-term impact if it draws out.
Employer: costs of demands vs. cost of lockout. Their willingness to pay. Long term contracts are better,
they can plan for increased productivity to outset the costs of strikes. More flexibility, fluidity of capital.
Employees: costs of strike vs. management offer (can we afford what they are offering us, or can we
resist it), willingness to pay, willingness to act. Can we keep people as a cohesive group during the
10 strike or lockout that becomes critical for employees. Consensus building via negotiation. Mobilization
and maintaining a strike.
The employer/employee relationship is fundamental to the structure of society. It is a power balance,
most of them having to do with expectations and the influences of the market.
Unions don‘t have nearly as much power as people assume. Balance tension that tends to favour
employers as they are the primary organizers of the labour force, the capital exists as a fluid resource,
and key questions may be reduced to stands of ‗cost and return‘. Where as employees the union is the
secondary organizer of the labour force, their history of worker association, the human/labour power is
inseparable, the entire spectrum of needs/wants, and they can‘t reduce their fundamental needs.
The globalization of the economy makes employment increasingly precarious. (outsourcing)- reduction
of blue-collar work force, reduces male unionization, wages not progressing as rapidly as the cost of
Carol Huynh and meritocracy. Gives a sense visually of what consists of a meritocracy.
Meritocracy: a hierarchical ranking and reward system in which one demonstrated performance
determines where the individual will end up in the hierarchy and confers greater merit and more rewards
to those at the top than those lower in the pyramid. It is based off of the ‗achievement principal‘
through achievement, one gains greater rewards. Individuals improve their social status through
achievement rather through different ‗ascribe traits‘ such as their gender, family background, or other
Huynh represents a huge change in opportunity for young women. Far greater gender equality in the
world of sports, now have women wrestling in the Olympic games. Reflect on obstacles and limitations
women still face.
She is involved in a sport that allows her to express her full physical ability. What matters in life is
Sense that Huynh represents the openness of Canadian society.
Two individuals matching widths, skills- suggests that we live in a society with no rationalization.
Doesn‘t impede someone from accomplishing their goals, sometimes it does, not as bad as it was. Where
do we stand as a society in terms of racializing different groups.
To capitalize on her medals, has to continue post-career. Ways in which they try to present her as ―the
typical girl next door.‖ Sense in which on one hand she resist feminized characteristics, yet she kind of
has to fit the mainstream what a young woman should look like to maintain a career.
Like to have an open society where people compete for the best positions in that world.
Inequality can be complex, in meritocracy, we believe in a system of inequality. It is based on the
inequality of opportunity for all. In order for the most talented and hard working to rise to the top,
everyone has to be in the mix.
Two types of equality we have to believe in: (1) everybody having the opportunity to compete
(education determining that every child has a fair chance to be the best students- more educated, rise
through structure) , (2) if we exclude people early on, maybe they were the most talented but we lost
them to this meritocratic structure. Need equality of opportunity.
We also should have equality of condition. Everyone competing in a race should have the same
conditions: no performance enhancers, same equipment. Ensuring that we get the best people through
achievement alone, everyone must have same conditions that they come under.
In Canada, conditions of competing are quite unequal.
Profile of income inequality in Canada
If we have a hierarchical system, it might not be perfect, but most Canadians are comfortable with. If
you are to have this systems, there will be some individuals making more money than other groups.
11 Showing Gini coefficient of incomes. Zero would mean that everyone is making the same amount of
income. There are some groups making more, and a lot of individuals making less. Part of the incentive
structure, higher rewards for harder jobs.
If income, a fairly successful progressive tax system.
While we believe in a meritocratic structure, those who are doing really well have to contribute more to
the social whole through taxes (redistribution of social wealth).
Problematic: the top 1% in 2007
Growing disparity in income, and growing share of income going to the top 1%. We also believe that
some of that wealth need to be funnelled back into the system to help the disadvantaged.
In order to be in top 1%, all you need to make is 169K a year, but the average is 404K. While the bottom
is 170 000, there are some people making a lot of money in the top 1%. Displays the advantages. Getting
a university education gives the skills required to fill the positions that will pay you really well 58% of
top 1% have BA or more. People do work hard in order to get that money.
Why the Growing Divide?
The growing income disparity in Canada boils down to the disappearance of middle and upper middle
income positions. 2 recessions forced into the workforce to take lower paying jobs and their economic
progress has been slowed by the outsourcing of some type of work and the constant deskilling of white
collar work which has allowed wages to slide towards minimum wage.
Outsourcing of work- good deal of blue-collar work has been sent offshore, eliminates a comfortable
part of the income structure; deskilling of white collar jobs through technology- because they demand
less skill, there is a large labour pool competing for these jobs.
Minimum wage sets wage floor for wages. As unionization starts to decline, employers can say this is
the minimum wage, but the surplus I pay over that minimum wage becomes the stage for negotiation.
Bad news- we are all salary workers, doesn‘t mean there is a great even sharing of the wages. As top 1%
starts to move away, there are huge holes in the economic structures.
Marx’s Class Theory
Leading sociologists in study of social inequality. No cumulative body of social theory around social
inequality, expect it to become more sophisticated as you go along. Beamish thinks it is possible to
suggest that there has been progress, people have become more sensitive to types of inequality that exist.
2 wave of women‘s movement. He pays no attention to gender. Hasn‘t focused on processes of
racialization either. He does point out that in the post-war period, there was one system of explaining
social inequality, after this came into question, many sociologist came back to classical theorists.
Marx from now on: Two class model, also intermediary classes though not stated
Particular social relationship - the ownership of the means of production (social relations of production)
Relations of inequality are social - an internal dynamic.
Centrality of the economy in determining the overall social structure. The place to start for inequality, is
in production. Unless you‘ve changed these things, you‘ll be faced with a society with significant
inequalities. Because they are social relations, we can create social change to alleviate the inequalities
that exist, or hope for the system to become more meritocratic.
Critique of classical liberalism and its individualist focus
Societies themselves have to come together and figure out democratics how they want to structure it.
Looking at a different world in a different time period.
He examines a stratification system comprised of several different features: (1) rather than individual
capitalists controlling the major firms, they are now controlled by share holders, and boards of directors,
12 (2) the complexity of the labour force has grown particularly with the emergence of a large white middle
class work force, (3) through their high social status, formally dominant classes and certain professions,
such as lawyers and doctors, as well as personnel within the growing government structure, hold power
and exercise considerable social influence.
Inequality, based on your class position but also on social status and political process.
Goal rational action was dominating social life.
The social democratic system involved 3 key elements: (1) class, (2) social status, and (3) political
Dramatic class differences, 19040s becomes more meritocratic. Changes to social structure itself that
leads sociologists to say that Marx was not right about contemporary society.
Post-WWII Stratification Theory
A stratified layer, stratified system - perception of post war system.
(1) Class was replaced by occupational status, (2) as firms grew and ownership became distributed,
financial rewards were now tied to ones location in a multi-dimensional, stratified, hierarchical social
system. Property meant far less than specific skills and knowledge, (3) emphasis on the need for
objective research using methodologies similar to those of the natural sciences. The result was a
heightened focus on empirical studies examining the relationships among independent, intervening and
dependant variables. As a result of all of the above, American sociology is the post—WWII period
employed the systems models of biology to study social life.
Talcott Parson‘s structural - functionalist stratification.
Davis and Moore argument of ―Some principles of stratification‖: they argued that stratification is a
universal phenomenon which acts as an essential sorting mechanism. They maintain that certain
positions require specialized talent and a long term investment in time and education which people
would only undertake if the rewards were high enough to offset those costs. In equality in an open,
meritocratic society they maintain is functional. 1940s-60s, sociologists had little reason to resist the
Society has changed dramatically in post-industrial society. Becoming a knowledge-based society. The
internal conflicts of industrial world have been eliminated a little bit. Class conflict institutionalized.
Tension between employers and employees, now they become part of the negotiation process thanks to
unions. Overt conflicts, Marx‘s revolution didn‘t occur. Greater stability as they agreed to negotiate.
Mass production led to a large consumer society. Everybody now can buy consumer goods, and live
more comfortable life-styles. We are all middle-class now, Embourgeoisement. A middle-class is
expanding, rather than polarization of classes. American melting pot- every immigrant that comes to
Canada can maintain their identity, etc but will not help them have job precedence over others. But we
are all on the basis of our hard work, able to move up the stratification system.
Economy starts to slow. Employers less willing to meet large wage demands. Emergence of overt
conflict, and the women‘s movement. The stable system really was an anomaly. What happened before
and after the first world war was the reality.
Critiques to Davis and Moore‘s argument: (1) premises of stratification system- best people fill best
jobs, are paid the best for them. But what are the best jobs? Lawyers, doctors? Some people such as
musical artists get paid a lot for not really important work. This became highly questioned. (2) A true
meritocracy? Equality of opportunity vs. equality of condition. Gender inequality was one of the major
factors that emerged. It wasn‘t just inequality of condition, but opportunity. Women were blocked out of
certain jobs. (3) Postwar consensus an anomaly - idea of shared set of values started to crumble. (4)
Power elite: Canadian Establishment – sociologists like Porter and Clement who study power in Canada,
showed that the power was still concentrated in the hands of few individuals, it was not widely and
openly distributed throughout society. The ‗elite 16‘ influence over 50% of the corporate wealth of all of
13 the companies combined, they can also influence certain economic and political decision making as
Nice stratified system: Weber focuses on the growth of bureaucracy. Opens the door for sociologists to
examine social inequality. Universities expand: bigger opportunity for women to enter them. People
start asking what are the types of knowledge that universities should be developing? Sciences fall into
same model. Encourage sociologists to understand stratification better. Weber‘s idea of status, but there