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SOC 104 (72)
Chapter 11

Chapter 11

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC 104
Professor
Mustafa Koc
Semester
Fall

Description
Week 10: Work and the Economy  Work remains central to our existence. It is necessary for the survival of most people.  Work is a social process. The way in which work is presently organized can be questioned and transformed.  People seek meaning in their work. The economy is the social institution that ensures the maintenance of society through the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. Mode of Production (MOP): the overall system of economic activity in a given society (shaped by the unique arrangement of productive forces and relations of production).  Human societies and social relations of production have been changing over time  The ways people organize their productive systems can offer us clues about the organization of social relations in that society. One of the earliest forms of economic organization was: Hunting and Gathering Societies: General characteristics of hunting and gathering societies were:  small size  generalized reciprocity  subsistence economy  no accumulation of surplus minimal exchange  simple division of labor  stateless  no private accumulation of wealth Agricultural Societies:  larger population  existence of surplus  subsistence & market economy  Increasing complexity in division of labour  state societies  social inequalities are ascribed  mostly rural o the household was seen as place of both work and residence o patriarchal Capitalism: an economic system characterized by private ownership of the means of production, from which personal profits can be derived through market competition. Distinctive features of capitalism:  Private ownership of the means of production o An economy driven by profit motive o Competitive market relations  Generalization of commodity relations  The profit motive of capitalism demands specific organization of production: o Maximum efficiency o Minimum wages o Extraction of maximum labour within a working day Some technical terms to know:  Commodity: any object that is exchanged in the marketplace  Use-value: the value of a commodity to satisfy a human want  Exchange-value: value of a commodity in the process of exchange  Value: Socially necessary labour embedded in a commodity  Price: The value of a commodity expressed in monetary terms in the market  Anarchy of production: Economic activity happens randomly not according to societal needs but as a result of the actions of various independent enterprises and corporations each seeking to maximize its own profits. Capitalist economy first emerged in Western Europe in the 15th Century and became the dominant economic system in the world economy by the 19th Century. Its expansion took various stages. Early Capitalism (Merchantilism): Commercial capitalism (1500-1800)  primitive accumulation of capital through: o plunder of colonies o slave trade  Emergence of the working class through: o depeasantization o proletarianization Industrial capitalism: (1800-1890)  complex technical division of labour  increasing regulation of work  separation of mental and manual labour  free-trade (laissez-faire) ideology  nation state formation Monopoly Capitalism (Imperialism) 1890-1930  concentration of production and capital leads to emergence of monopolies  merging of financial & industrial capital leading to financial oligarchies  export of capital and territorial division of the world among capitalist countries  legal separation of enterprise from those who own it and those who control it.  this protects owners and executives from personal liabilities Concentration and Centralization:  Oligopoly: when several companies control a sector or industry  Shared monopoly: when four or fewer companies supply 50 percent or more of a particular market (Eitzen and Baca Zinn, 1995).  Conglomerates: combinations of business in different commercial areas, all of which are owned by one holding company.  Interlocking corporate directorates: members of the board of directors of one corporation who also sit on the board(s) of other corporations Concerns about Corporate Concentration:  concentration of wealth and power lead to lesser democratic participation in the decision making process  makes it difficult for smaller firms, countries or labour groups in competing or negotiating with the bigger firms and conglomerates  making local development plans difficult and dependent on global strategies of transnational companies  corporations tend to expand and diversify by mergers or buying existing firms instead of developing new productive capacity  means lesser competition in the market place Role of the State in Capitalist Economies: Structuralist Perspective of James O’Connor O’Connor argued that the state had three main functions in modern capitalist economies:  Accumulation: creating and maintaining the conditions for profitable capital accumulation  Legitimation: maintaining social harmony, in large measure to justify the current class structure and the right of the ruling class to rule  Coercion: using force, when necessary, to repress the subordinate individuals or classes on behalf of the dominant class. Forms of Interventionist State in Capitalist Economies:  List and protectionism: state protection of infant industries through tax concessions & other incentives; and restricting imports through tariff barriers and quotas  Keynesian model: periodic booms & slumps are inherent problems of capitalism. State spending to create employment & increase incomes to stimulate demand & business confidence  Welfare state: capitalism may create potential for economic
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