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Chapter 4

Chapter 4 Textbook Notes

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Sociology 2169

Chapter Four- Work, Alienation, Well-Being, and Health Alienation  Alienation explains how work under capitalism is structured to make workers powerless with respect to content, conditions, production, and processes of their work  Control is put into hands of owners  Work loses its ability to be self-actualizing, or to fulfill higher human needs  Four sources of alienation: o Workers are alienated from what they produce  Work is a means to an end  does provide any fulfillment o Workers do not have control over the process of production  Decisions are all made by owners and their agents  Further prevents them from fulfilling themselves o Workers alienated from themselves or from engaging in creative activity  Separate themselves from humanity  Marx – humans define themselves through labour o Workers alienated from others  Divided through exploitation and social inequality  Alienation produced from structure and organization of work under capitalism  Negative impacts: limiting workers potential, harm workers physically and mentally  Blauner’s study – Alienation and Freedom – workers’ alienation increased as technology shifted from craftwork to machine tending and assembly-line work  Exerting more skill and autonomy on the job, workers feel less alienated than others  Eicher and Thompson – alienation is linked to occupational self-direction – those will little occupational self-direction are much less likely to feel alienated  Alienation linked with class: o Blue-collar, and lower-level service jobs  more alienated o Middle-class workers in jobs that require more education are granted more autonomy  People enjoy work that has intrinsic awards  people do desire work that is creatively fulfilling Job Satisfaction  Job satisfaction – summary measure of “workers’ attitude of overall acceptance, contentment and enjoyment of their jobs” o Intrinsic awards – decision-making opportunities, challenging nonrepetitive work, and autonomy that allows for self-direction and responsibility over tasks (INNER SATISFACTION) o Extrinsic awards – good wages, benefits, employment security, and opportunities for advancement (THINGS THAT WILL BENEFIT YOUR LIFE)  Satisfied workers are not always happy and fulfilled workers  Issues with measuring how satisfied we are with our jobs: o We have complex feelings about our job – we love what we do, but hate our boss etc.. o Represents an attitude or feelings that may be only loosely connected to how we behave at work What Makes Workers Satisfied?  Characteristics that are important for contributing to job satisfaction: o Extent to which work is autonomous, challenging, and interesting  Most important factor for contributing to job satisfaction  Higher priority than good pay  More satisfied with interesting, autonomous, and challenging jobs o Having positive relations with co workers  Positive interactions are rated very high and are more satisfying  Other characteristics: ability to balance work and family, job security and opportunities for advancement, good pay, and a feeling of being valued and appreciated Are Some Types of Workers More Satisfied Than Others?  No evidence of gender difference in satisfaction with jobs – equally satisfied o Even though women have worse conditions than men o Paradox: women consistently satisfied with less  women value work differently than men  Disagreement with paradox...but men are more satisfied with good pay, promotion opportunities, complexity, and so on o Women have work with more positive interactions which can compensate for their routine work  Difference in satisfaction in race/ethnicity o Visible minorities are less satisfied with their jobs o Coloured workers will be less satisfied  Immigrants have high job satisfaction o Even though immigrants face serious obstacles in search for work – although negative features still a high satisfaction with the work they get  Age – younger workers are more likely less satisfied with their jobs than older workers o Explained by the types of jobs youth are able to get o Youth expectations: youth expect more from their jobs o Older expectations: older workers have met their expectations and achieved their goals  Jobs satisfaction varies across difference occupations o Less satisfying jobs: mining, fishing, and farming, and manufacturing sector and industry work o Work in the health industry – is the least satisfying o Conclusion: workers with more occupational self-direction (less alienated) are more satisfied with their work  More satisfied are those who have jobs that are less alienating Workplace Stress  Stress – state of tension produced by pressures or conflicting demands with which the person cannot
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