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Work. A Critique. Key Concepts

  • ID: 2326804
  • Book
  • 200 Pages
  • John Wiley and Sons Ltd
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This book provides a critical overview of the myriad literatures on work, viewed not only as a product of the marketplace but also as a social and political construct. Drawing on theoretical and empirical contributions from sociology, history, economics, and organizational studies, the book brings together perspectives that too often remain balkanized, using each to explore the nature of work today.

Outlining the fundamental principles that unite social science thinking about work, Vallas offers an original discussion of the major theoretical perspectives that inform workplace analysis, including Marxist, interactionist, feminist, and institutionalist schools of thought. Chapters are devoted to the labor process, to workplace flexibility, to gender and racial inequalities at work, and to the link between globalization and the structure of work and authority today. Major topics include the relation between work and identity; the relation between workplace culture and managerial control; and the performance of emotional labor within service occupations.

This concise book will be invaluable to students at all levels as it explores a range of insights to make sense of pressing issues that drive the social scientific study of work today.
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List of Figures and Tables vii

1 Introduction 1

Approaching Work 3

Three Rules of Thumb 6

Schools of Thought in the Sociology of Work 19

Conclusion 34

2 Capitalism, Taylorism, and the Problem of Labor Control 37

Taylorism and the De–skilling Debate 38

Workplace Culture and Managerial Control 43

Workers as Subjects: Governing the Worker s Soul 47

Conclusion 54

3 From Fordism to Flexibility? 60

The End of Fordism 62

Flexible Specialization 67

Scrutinizing Workplace Flexibility 72

4 Ascriptive Inequalities at Work, I: Gender 86

Studying Gender Inequality at Work 87

The Gendering of Work in the United States 89

Human Capitol Theory and Supply Side Approaches 96

Structural Approaches: The Demand side of the Equations 99

Social Networks: The Web of Affiliations 104

The Devaluation of Women s Work 106

Conclusion 110

5 Ascriptive Inequalities, II: Race, Ethnicity, and Diversity at Work 113

The Continuing Significance of Race at Work 115

Social Closure Processes 119

Social Networks and Hiring Practices 121

Race–Typing and the Devaluation pf Black Labor 124

The Concept of Diversity: Reinforcing Inequality? 126

Conclusion 131

6 The Globalization of Work 133

Neo–liberalism: The Cult of the Marketplace 136

Globalization: The Debate 144

Regulating Global Capitalism: Solidarity Movements and Codes of Contact 156

Conclusion 161

7 Conclusion 163

Notes 170

References 173

Index 195

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Steven Vallas
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