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.
Steven Peter Vallas is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University.
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