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ch 1 Soc.Approaches to Work.doc

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Sociology 2169

Chapter 1: Text notes: Sociological Approaches to Studying Work What is Work? - Economists see work as activity that produces a good or service for the market o Covers most of paid labor but excludes much of what else we view as work excludes housework, schoolwork etc. (unpaid), illegal drugs etc. - Tilly and Tilly o Work: human effort that adds use value to goods and service o Use Value: what is produced has some value (economic and social value) o Encompasses paid work, as well as domestic work, illegal work etc. The Sociology of Work - Sociology: the study of human society (institutions, groups, and change) - Work is a social activity in many social locations and institutions, affected by processes of social change - Main themes: o Impact of social structure on people and the ways in which people shape social institutions Our nature is based on preexisting conditions How the structure of work and conditions shape our experiences, and how we adapt to the structure Seek fulfillment through work (not fulfilled = collectively fight) o Link between work and social change How the organization of work and conflicts prompt social change How broader social/economic changes alter work Work has changed over time in its organization, structure, technology and markets o Link between work and social inequality Work is central to the production and reproduction of inequality Influences income, life expectancy, standard of living and health Intersectional gender, class, race etc. combine in ways to shape our interactions and experience Work organizations are gendered and racialized A Note About Terminology - Use the term gender over sex o Gender is not biologically determined but socially and culturally defined o Assumed differences between men and women shape social relations, and these relations are infused with power - Class: describes economic inequalities in society o Marxist class defined at the point of production: owner vs. worker o Weber social/economic category determined by ones opportunities, life chances and lifestyle o Work and Industry - fundamentally determined by (and shapes/influences) occupation and ones position in the labor market - Race: people of colour used over visible minority o Racial categories are socially constructed society shares an understanding of the meaning o Racialization: how society have constructed race to allow categorization of people by certain real or imagined phonotypical/genetic differences Gives meaning that reflects how members of a group are seen Categories become real and reflect peoples experiences Visible minorities fare more poorly in the labour market in terms of participation and income Sociological Approaches to Work - Sociological Theory: set of ideas that helps us study, interpret and understand a social phenomena - Draw on many theories to shed light on an issue/event, use certain theories for certain problems Marxist Theory - Studied the nature of work in modern capitalist societies - Alienation and exploitation through the extraction of surplus value are still used - 2 central assumptions: o Labour Theory of Value: labour=source of all value; nothing has value unless labour is expended on it E.g. apple has no value unless it is picked from a tree Ex: wooden chair has value by being worth the wood chopping, shaping, assembly, sanding o Work is what truly separates humans from animals We express our humanity through work We think about what we will do conceptualize Animals work is driven by instinct Alienation - Work in a capitalist society is inherently alienating - Capitalism robs workers of control over the means of production and products of their labour - Work is only a way to get paid, not to fulfill higher human needs o Can be psychologically damaging, distorting our nature & interactions/limiting our potential growth - 4 sources of alienation: o Alienated from the product they produce Dont own it, cant say how it will be disposed o No control over the process of production High division of labour someone tells them what to do o Alienated from themselves or from engaging in creative activity Little time to conceptualize and direct o Alienated from others, with few opportunities to connect with coworkers Compete for jobs, promotions etc. Exploitation - Owners grow rich off the labour workers, through the extraction of surplus value o Create value which is then sold employers profit because they only pay workers a fraction of the value provided - Surplus value workers produce, but arent paid for, results in profit for employers - Exploitation means work inherently generates conflicto Workers and employers have opposing interests Workers want to increase surplus value by increasing productivity, changing production, altering division of labour, or technology Works aim to reduce surplus value to get paid more - Capitalist societies are inherently unequal o Owner/Worker division stems from organization of production and profit - Coercive nature enhanced as workers need employment to survive - Proletariat/Bourgeoisie = fundamental class cleavage in society - Organization of work established and reproduced class inequalities - Marx predicted revolution Weberian Approaches - Analysis of bureaucracy and modern organization - Work is in bureaucratic settings with hierarchies, complex divisions of labour, and formal rules/procedures - Rationalization: ppl continually strive to find the optimum means to reach a given end in a very rule-driven and formal way o Drive to improve guides decision making within organizations and impacts workers, shaping available jobs and what works like o Pressured to follow rules and be efficient - Ritzer McDonaldization: principles of the fast food restaurant are coming to domina
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