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SOCA01H3 (480)
Chapter 15

CHAPTER 15 - WORK AND THE ECONOMY

11 Pages
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Department
Sociology
Course Code
SOCA01H3
Professor
Ivanka Knezevic

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SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 CHAPTER 15 – WORK AND THE ECONOMY INTRODUCTION Three Key Points 1. Work is central to our existence a. We will spend the better part of our lives working, because work is central to our economic well-being b. Many of us will be working for someone else and on someone else’s terms i. Very wealthy depend on investment income ii. Extremely poor depend on social welfare iii. Majority depends on wages and salaries 2. Work is a social product and therefore it is negotiable a. Many Canadians see work as a given i. We either have work or we don’t ii. We go to work every day or night iii. We leave at the end of a career b. In actuality, there is nothing inevitable about the way work is presented and organized; i. Work is a social product in the way it is structured, the nature of jobs, and the rewards of work (all are products of social relationships between different groups of people) ii. Over time and across cultures, work has taken varied forms 3. People seek meaning in the work they perform; there is a close relationship between work, life, and identity a. Many work to survive, however, the quality of work still matters to workers despite their age i. A survey was conducted to Canadian workers on whether or not they would quit their jobs if they won a million dollars. Only 17% said they would quit their jobs and never work again. The majority was made up of workers who said that they would embark on a different career, start their own business, or just not quit their jobs at all. b. It is unlikely that any of us would quit our jobs immediately after winning one million dollars, but we would quit our jobs eventually. But it’s questionable as to whether or not we would abandon work all together. i. In any event of jobless, even retirement, some Canadians report a desire to return to work. 1. Report a loss of dignity and purpose, and feeling marginalized in society  To understand work fully, it is necessary to think about the wider economy  Economy: A social institution in which people carry out the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.  It’s important to understand how economic systems function since they directly affect how we live. o Quality of health care o Housing o Diet and Nutrition o Consumer spending o Overall lifestyle  Economic system is linked to o Nation’s political system o People’s conceptions of democracy and citizenship o General measures of success and failure WORLD ECONOMIC SYSTEMS  Economic systems are not abstract and untouchable entities o Are structured and contested and shaped and reshaped by the people who inhabit these systems SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 o Reflects relations of power and inequality  Canada is based on a system of capitalism o There are obvious as well as subtle manifestations of inequality  Extremes of wealth and poverty are seen every day  Economic inequalities are tied to inequalities based on gender, race, and ethnicity  The power of capitalism is so pervasive that we see it as natural. Few of us ever notice or question the inequalities that characterize a capitalist society. We are always so concerned as to how we can climb up the social ladder that we never question the system. o Present society is the result of historical relationships based on conflict and struggle CAPITALISM  Capitalism is unlike earlier forms of economic systems because capitalism is based on o Private ownership of the means of production: concept which refers to wealth-generating property, such as land, factories, machines, and the capital needed to produce and distribute goods and services for exchange in the market o Exchange relationship between owners and workers o Economy driven by the profit –motive o Market competition  Karl Marx th o Noticed profound changes in 19 century England  Gradual but dramatic transition from a feudal agricultural society to industrialized capitalist economy o Capitalism  Capitalist class (bourgeoisie): Owns means of production  Working class (proletariat – majority of people): do not own the means of production  Relationship of unequal exchange  Since workers do not own means of production to produce their own wealth, they must resort to selling their labour to a capitalist employer to receive a wage. o Workers are forced into this because in a capitalist society, it is impossible to survive without money  Production (work) is organized toward the goal of maximizing profits for personal wealth o Work is structured in the most efficient way possible  Pay low wages  Extract greatest amount of labour  Based on a freely competitive market system (laissez –faire government) o Market forces of supply and demand will determine the production and distribution of goods and services o No government interference CAPITALISM AND INDUSTRIALIZATION  Capitalism is a broad economic system  Industrialization is a more specific process that has consequences for the nature and organization of work as well as for the division of labour. o Led to the transformation of capitalist production o Involved new forms of energy (steam, electricity) o New forms of transportation (railroad) o Urbanization o Implementation of new machine technology SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 o All of the above contributed to the following:  Rise of factory system of production  Manufacturing the mass production of goods  The changes that came with industrialization led to heightened capitalist production o Shaped the ways in which people worked and organized their lives  Increase in factories led to o Movement of work from homes and small workshops to larger, more impersonal sites o Towards concentration of larger groups of workers under one rood o Introduction of time discipline o More specialized division of labour  During industrialization, economic inequalities were even more obvious which led to more conflict between the classes o Successful capitalists made a lot of money o Working-class earned little despite all their work o Many people lived in poverty and misery FAMILY CAPITALISM  When capitalism was in its early stages, the country’s wealth was mostly owned and controlled by a small number of individuals and families  Businesses were passed on within families CORPORATE (MONOPOLY) CAPITALISM  Ownership went from individuals and families to modern corporations which includes the company’s shareholders  Corporation: a legal entity distinct from the people who own and control it. o May enter into contracts and own property o Separates enterprise from individuals  Protects owners and CEOs from personal liability of debt  Growing concentration of economic power o Corporations gain more economic power through mergers  Merging can create situations of monopoly and oligopoly  Monopoly o One corporation has exclusive control over the market o Undesirable for consumers as it limits choices o Canadian government tries to curb monopolization of an industry  Oligopoly o Several companies control an industry (insurance, newspaper, entertainment)  Increased revenues are always desirable and are achieved through mergers and/or acquisition o Expense of industrial development, employment, and workers  In 2009 corporations earned 3 times more than they did last year. However, this was not due to an increase in sales and marketing strategies. These earnings came from cost-cutting measures, which comes at the expense of workers  Many were laid off  Some of the most powerful firms hire the most amount of people, but some of these places are known for their low wages and few opportunities for training and advancement GLOBAL ISSUES – ETAG’S 2006 TRANSPARENCY REPORT CARD: REVEALING CLOTHING  Companies assessed on the basis of their policies and programs to achieve and maintain compliance with recognized international labour standards in factories around the world where their products are made and the steps they are taking to thoroughly, effectively and transparently communicate these SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 THE GLOBAL ECONOMY  Today, economic activity has no national borders  Large companies operate globally o Transnational/Multinational corporations/companies (TNC) o Head offices are in one country, while production facilities are based in others  The goal of TNCs are to maximize profits o Moving beyond national boundaries for  Cheapest labour  Lowest-cost infrastructure (power, water, supply, roads, telephone lines)  No hindrance by health and safety regulations, minimum wage and hours-of-work laws, maternity provisions etc.  Critics o Negative cultural, social, and economic consequences of globalization o Homogenization of culture o Global capitalism has an uneven impact on different groups of people around the world.  Garment manufacturers say that they prefer to hire young girls and women because they have nimble fingers o Suspect that they are actually hired because they are less likely to complain about illegal and unjust conditions and are less likely to organize unions  Intensification of divisions of labour, globally, along the lines of class, sex, and race  Canadians face the constant threat of company relocating to lower-cost areas, which has led to the weakening of the political power of the workers and the unions o This has caused Canadians to agree to give up on their past gain  Pay cuts  Loss of vacation pay  Unpaid overtime o The constant threat of job loss affects the standard of living THE CAPITALIST ECONOMY: WHERE PEOPLE WORK  Economy changes throughout history as does our relationship to work  Opportunities for certain kinds of jobs also change  Four Major Economic Sectors o Primary and resource industry o Manufacturing o Service Sector o Social Reproduction PRIMARY RESOURCE INDUSTRY  Decades ago, most Canadians worked in the primary sector  Extracting natural resources from the environment  There has been a dramatic decline in this sector o Demise of small family farms and small independent fishing businesses o Rise in corporate farming o Large fishing enterprises o Some towns have seen economic devastation SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1 MANUFATURING  Increasing numbers of Canadians began to work in the secondary sector  Experiencing a slower decline that the primary sector o Jobs were lost due to plant closures and layoffs due to:  Lower production  Corporate drive to intensify productivity  Greater outsourcing  Manufacturing jobs are more likely to be full-time, offer pensions and benefits and be unionized THE SERVICE SECTOR  Over the several decades many new jobs have been created in the tertiary sector o Linked to development of post-industrial, information-based economy, information-based economy and to the growth of a strong consumer culture  Need for people to work in information processing, management, marketing, advertising, and servicing  Employees who lost their jobs in manufacturing turned to servicing  Includes a wide range of jobs o Jobs can be very dissimilar (polarization of work)  Some good, high-skilled, well-paid jobs and many bad, poorly-paid, dead-end jobs  Qualitatively different from manufacturing  Involves physical performance but also emotional performance o In a competitive market, one way to get more customers is good service o Arlie Hochschild – Flight Attendants Study  Emotional labour is typically performed by women  Damaging to workers because it involves regulating and supressing emotions  Frequent tension between workers and their bosses o Low-end service work -> low-trust relationship o Expectations that the workforce will have weak loyalties to the company and the company’s goals -> Intense management control through close directions and surveillance o Low-end service work -> High level of stress SOCIAL REPRODUCTION  Production typically occurs in the public world. Moreover, it involves monetary exchange.  There are kinds of work done each day that is not officially recorded as part of the economy o Social reproduction: involves a range of activities for which there is no direct economic exchange.  Often performed within family households  Typically done by women  Not seen as an economic activity (household chores)  Deemed a labour of love  Depended on by the capitalist society, because that way the workforce will be free to work  For many years, sociologists did not consider this work THE INFORMAL ECONOMY  Wide range of economic activity is not officially reported to the government o Informal/underground economy  Babysitting, cleaning homes, sewing clothes etc. SOCA01 SOCIOLOGY 1  In the developing world informal employment is generally a larger source of employment for women than for men  Informal economies have flourished for a long time in most nations, but this sector is seeing an increase in importance due to o Economic hardship o Globalizations effect of dislocation and forced migration  Hidden work is now a safety net for the poorest groups in society. This means that they face precarious, unstable careers in unregulated environments OPEN FOR DISCUSSION – HARD WORK NEVER KI
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