Slave society, Feudal society, Industrial Capitalist Society

Social Organization of Work:

  1. We can define work, whether paid or unpaid, as being the carrying out of tasks requiring the expenditure of mental and physical effort, which has some objective, the production of goods and services that cater to human needs. An occupation, or job, is work that is done in exchange for a regular wage or salary.
  2. In all cultures, work is the basis of the Economic System. The economic system consists of institutions that provide for the production and distribution of goods and services. .
  3. One of the most distinctive characteristics of the economic system of modern societies is the existence of a highly complex division of labour: work has been divided into an enormous number of different occupations in which people specialize.
  4. In traditional societies, non-agricultural work entailed the mastery of a craft. Craft skills were learned through a lengthy period of apprenticeship, and the worker normally carried out all aspect of the production process from beginning to end. For example a metalworker making a plough would forge the iron, shape it and assemble the implement itself. With the rise of modern industrial production, most traditional crafts have disappeared altogether, replaced by skills that form part of larger scale of production processes.
  5. Modern society has also witnessed a shift in the location of work. Before industrialization, most work took place at home and was completed collectively by all the members of the household. Advances in industrial technology, such as machinery operating on electricity and coal, contributed to the separation of work and home.
  6. Factories owned by entrepreneurs became the focal points of industrial development. Machinery and equipment were concentrated within them and the mass production of goods began to eclipse small-scale artisanship based in the home. People seeking jobs in factories are trained to perform a specialized task and receive a wage for their work. Employee performance are overseen by managers, who concerned themselves with implementing techniques for enhancing worker productivity and discipline.
  7. The contrast in the division of labour between traditional and modern societies is truly extraordinary. Even in the largest traditional societies, there usually existed no more than twenty or thirty major craft trades, together, with such specialized roles as merchant, industrial system; there are literally thousands of distinct occupations.
  8. In traditional communities, most of the population worked on farms and were economically self- sufficient. They produced their own food, clothes and other necessities of life. One of the main features of modern societies, by contrast, is an enormous expansion of economic interdependence.
  9. Early sociologist wrote extensively about the potential consequences of the division of labour- both for individual workers and for society as a whole. Karl Marx was one of the first writers to speculate that the development of modern industry would reduce many people’s work to dull, uninteresting tasks. According to Marx, the division of labour alienates human beings from their work. For Marx, alienation refers to feeling of indifference or hostility not only to work, but to the overall framework of industrial production within a capitalist setting. In traditional societies, he pointed out, work was often exhausting – peasant farmers sometimes had to toil from dawn to dusk. Yet peasants held real measure of control over their work, which required much knowledge and skill. Many industrial workers, by contrast, have little control over their jobs, only contributing a fraction to the creation of the overall product, and they have no influence over how or to whom it is eventually sold. Marxists would argue that for workers like Jockey, work appears as some thing alien, a task that must be carried out in order to earn an income but that is intrinsically unsatisfying.
  10. Durkheim had a more optimistic outlook about the division of labour, although, although he too acknowledged its potentially harmful effects. According to Durkheim, the specialization of roles would strengthen social solidarity within communities. Rather than living as isolated, self- sufficient units, people would be linked together through their mutual dependency. Solidarity would be enhanced through multidirectional relationships of production and consumption. Durkheim saw this arrangement as a highly functional one, although he was also aware that social solidarity could be disrupted if change occurred too rapidly. He referred to this resulting sense of normlessness as anomie.

The Social Signifence of Work:

For most of us, work occupies a larger part of our lives than any other single type of activity.
In modern societies, having a job is important for maintaining self- esteem. Even where work
conditions are relatively unpleasant, and the tasks dull, work tends to be a structuring element in
people’s psychological make- up and the cycle of their daily activities. Several characteristics of
work are relevant here.

  1. Money or Wage: A wage or Salary in return from work is the main resource many people depend on to meet their needs. Without an income, anxieties about coping with day-to-day life multiply.
  2. Activity level: Work often provides a basis of the acquisition and exercise of skills and capacities. Even where work is routine, it offers a structured environment in which a person’s energies may be absorbed. Without it, the opportunity to exercise such skills and capacities may be reduced.
  3. Variety: Work provides access to contexts that contrast with domestic surroundings. In the working environment, even when the tasks are relatively dull, people may enjoy doing something different from home chores.
  4. Temporal structure: For people in regular employment, the day is usually organized around the rhythm of work. While this may sometimes be oppressive, it provides a sense of direction in daily activities. Those who are out of work frequently find boredom a major problem and develop a sense of apathy about time.
  5. Social contacts: The work environment often provides friendships and opportunities to participate in shared activities with others. Separated from the work setting, a person’s circle of possible friends and acquaintances is likely to dwindle.
  6. Personal identity: Work is usually valued for the sense of stable social identity it offers. For men in particular, self-esteem is often bound up with the economic contribution they make to the maintenance of the household.

Against the backdrop of this formidable list, it is not difficult to see why being without work may undermine individual’s confidence in their social value.

Economic system of simple societies(Pre-Industrial Society)

HERBERT SPENCER has defined simple society as one which forms a simple working whole and of which the parts cooperate for certain public ends. Simple societies have low division of labour. The occupational differentiation being limited primarily to birth, sex and age. These societies have no specialized economic orgnization.

  1. THE PRODUCTIVE SKILLS ARE SIMPLE AND PRODUCTIVITY IS LOW therefore these societies cannot sustain large population size-SMALL POPULATION. Most of the adult members are engaged in FOOD GATHERING activities.
  2. There is LITTLE OR NO SURPLUS so the social inequalities are not significant and economic interaction takes place within egalitarian frame-work.
  4. Some of the simple societies inhabiting regions having abundant food and other resources indulge in conspicuous consumption.
  5. The members LACK HIGH DEGREE OF ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION as there is neither any intense preoccupation on generation and accumulation of economic surplus.Infact most economic activities emphasize on giving rather than storing or accumulation. Private ownership of means of production is non-existent.
  8.  The INNOVATION IS RARE AND CHANGE IS SLOW. The customary practices and norms regulate production and exchange of goods and services.

Some forms of Simple Economic Exchange:

  1. Barter system- It is direct form of exchange whether in return for services or goods.
  2. Silent trade– It was an exchange system where the exchanging parties do not know each other personally.
  3. Jajmani system-It is system of economic and social relationship existing between various castes in villages. The patron is known as jajman and the service castes are known as kamin.It is still prevalent in villages.
  4. Ceremonial exchange-It is a type of social system in which goods are given to relatives and friends on various social occasions. The main idea is to establish cordial relations between the various social groups.
  5. Potlatch-This term means gift. It is meant as a public distribution of goods made to establish certain claims of the giver and the recipients. It is based on the principle of reciprocity. Through this system the host declares his status to others.
  6. Multicentric economy-It is an economy using several media of exchange.
  7. Kula -According to Malinowski it is a ceremonial exchange participated by the inhabitants of a closed circle of Trobriand Island. It has no practical or commercial value. The system of exchange is regulated in a kind of ring with two directional movements. In clockwise direction,the red shell necklaces called Soulava circulate and in anticlockwise circulation the white arm shells known as Mwali circulate among the members of the Kula.Objects given and taken in Kula are never subjected any bargaining.

Economic system of complex societies (Industrial Society)

The complex societies have high degree of division of labor and consequently structural differentiation. Thus economic activity constitutes a specialized activity taking place in special institution framework and distinguishable from other types of social activity e.g. factories, banks and markets are some of the distinct economic activities.

  1. HIGH DIVISION OF LABOR implies advanced skills which help in high productivity. The economic organization can easily sustain a large population.
  2. COMPLEX SOCIETIES due to their high productivity generate huge surplus. They can support conspicuous consumption.
  3. MARKET EXCHANGE is the pivotal form of exchange and money is the universal medium of exchange.
  4. The members of the complex societies have HIGH ACHIEVEMENT MOTIVATION and the economic behavior is characterized by an INTENSE PREOCCUPATION WITH GENERATION AND ACCUMULATION OF SURPLUS.
  5. There exist a CLEAR DISTINCTION BETWEEN DOMESTIC ECONOMY AND COMMUNITY ECONOMY. The DOMESTIC UNITS ARE THE UNITS OF CONSUMPTION AND SUPPLY THE MANPOWER to the community economy. The production of goods and services takes place in the larger units which form part of the community economy.
  6. These societies are characterized by THE HIGH LEVEL OF SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNOLOGICAL ADVANCEMENTS. Economic activity is perceived in secular terms and is based on practical rationality.
  7. HIGH DEGREE OF SPECIALIZATION, RAPIDITY OF CHANGE, PREDOMINANCE OF PRACTICAL AND EXCESSIVE MECHANIZATION OF PRODUCTION leads to a state of anomie in society and alienate the worker from the product of his labour.

Social Organization of Work in Different Types of Society

Slave society:

  1. Slave society is a society, where the fundamentals of class conflict is based on the division of people into masters and slaves, with slaves being the dominant producing class. Masters had complete control and ownershipright over slaves. One group among human beings (slaves) were commodified andcontrolled by masters. The Roman Empire attempted to create a slave society for over 500 years. Rome had been a large semi-feudal empire with many peasant/farmers, whose skills were needed to plant crops, and whose loyalty to the Empire was necessary for waging war as soldiers. With the falls of the Roman Empire, the notion of a slave society also fell in centuries to come.
  2. Early Marxist Theory: According to Marx & Engels, Slave society was the earliest form of class society. It is an extreme form of inequality in which some individuals are owned by others as their property. The slave owner has full control including using violence over the slave. .T Hobhouse defined slave as a man whom law and custom regard as the property of another. In extreme cases he is wholly without rights.
  3. Slaves were in lower condition as compared with freemen. The slaves have no political rights. They did not choose their government, did not attend the public councils. Socially they were despised. They were compelled to work.
  4. The slavery system has existed sporadically at many times and places but there are two major examples of slavery – societies of the ancient world based upon slavery (Greek and Roman) and southern states of USA in the 18th and 19th centuries.
  5. According to H.J Nieboer the basis of slavery is always economic because with it emerged a kind of aristocracy which lived upon slave labour. The increase of production in all branches-cattle-raising, agriculture, domestic handicrafts-gave human labour-power the capacity to produce a larger product than was necessary for its maintenance; hence prisoners of war were turned into slaves.
  6. With increase of the productivity of labour, and therefore of wealth, and its extension in the field of production, the first great social division of labour was bound, in the general historical conditions prevailing, to bring slavery to its end. From the first great social division of labour arose the first great cleavage of society into two classes: Feudal Lords and Slaves.

Feudal Society

  1. Feudalism was the medieval model of government predating the birth of the modern nation-state. Feudal society is a military hierarchy in which a ruler or ‘lord’ who offered fighters a “fief”, a unit of land to control in exchange for a military service.
  2. Feudalism discouraged trade and economic growth. The land was worked by peasant farmers called serfs, who were tied to individual plots of land and forbidden to move or change occupations without the permission of their lord. The feudal lord might claim onethird to one-half of their produce in taxes and fees, and the serfs owed him a set number of days each year in which they would work in the lord’s fields in exchange for the right to work on their own lands. Often, they were required to grind their grain in the lord’s mill, and bake all their bread in the lords’ oven, and to use roads and bridges the lord had built. Each time they did this, of course, they would have to pay him a toll or a fee of some sort. They were, however, forbidden to set up their own roads, bridges, mills, and ovens-the lord had a legal monopoly and would milk it for all it was worth.
  3. During the period of history known as the Middle Ages, feudalism was the law of the land. It was the basis by which the upper nobility class maintained control over the lower classes. The Lords held this land by what they believed was “divine right”, the right to rule granted by God and then passed on through heredity. However, there was no physical way for a king to govern all the land effectively because there was no quick communication system, and it often took several days to travel from one part of the country to the other, even in a relatively small country such as England. The king needed a way to maintain control over his lands, even if indirectly. Over time, the holdings of these lords were passed from generation to generation. The class of lords solidified into an upper nobility class. They felt that they were much superior to the “common” peasants, or serfs. As a result, the lords usually were merciless to their peasants and demanded much from them.
  4. The church leaders often also held a great power over the people, much like the lords of the manor. Many church leaders were active in politics and government. The peasants believed that the harder they worked, the more of their money they gave to the church, and the more they served the church, the better the after-life would be for them. The church also paid the lord to use the land, and this sort of symbiosis between the church and the lord keep them both with an exceptional amount of money, while the peasant sometimes starved to death from overwork and exploitation.
  5. The feudal society was constructed for one reason: security. The King wanted the security of maintaining control over their far-reaching kingdoms, so they were forced to delegate power to local control. The peasants wanted security from marauders and barbarians from neighboring lands. They also wanted security from invading armies. And thus the development of the feudal system and the fief structure was almost inevitable. However, all this came at the great expense of the common man.
  6. The estate system is synonymous with Feudalism. The feudal estates had three important characteristics .In the first place they were legally defined; each estate had a status with legal rights and duties, privileges and obligations. Secondly the estates represented a broad division of labor and were regarded as having definite functions. The nobility were ordained to defend all, the clergy to pray for all and the commons to provide food for all. Thirdly the feudal estates were political groups. An assembly of estates possessed political power. From this point of view the serfs did not constitute an estate until 12th century. This period saw the emergence of third estate –commoners, who were a distinctive group within the system. Thus the three estates -clergy, nobility and commoners functioned like three political groups.

Industrial Society:

  1. Industrialization is the process of social and economic change whereby a human group is transformed from a pre-industrial society into an industrial one. It is a part of wider modernization process, where social change and economic development are closely related with technological innovation, particularly with the development of large-scale energy and metallurgy production. It is the extensive organization of an economy for the purpose of manufacturing. Industrialization also introduces a form of philosophical change, where people obtain a different attitude towards their perception of nature.
  2. According to EMILE DURKHEIM, “Division of labour or specialization” is the specialization of cooperative labour in specific, circumscribed tasks and roles, intended to increase the productivity of labour in Industrial society. Historically the growth of a more and more complex division of labour is closely associated with the growth of total output and trade, the rise of capitalism, and of the complexity of industrialization processes.
  3. Increasing the specialization may also lead to workers with poorer overall skills and a lack of enthusiasm for their work (Alienation). This viewpoint was extended and refined by Karl Marx. He described the process as alienation; workers become more and more specialized and work repetitious which eventually leads to complete alienation. Labour hierarchy is to a great extent inevitable, simply because no one can do all tasks at once; but of course the way these hierarchies are structured can be influenced by a variety of different factors. It is often agreed that the most equitable principle in allocating people within hierarchies is that of true (or proven) competency or ability. This important Western concept of meritocracy could be read as an explanation or as a justification of why a division of labour is the way it is.
  4. The concentration of labour into factories has brought about the rise of large towns to serve and house the working population. In a capitalist system, investments, distribution, income, production, pricing and supply of goods, commodities and services are determined by private decisions, usually within the context of markets. In a capitalist state, private property rights are protected by the rule of law of a government through a limited regulatory framework.
  5. According to Marx, the capitalist stage of development or ‘bourgeoisie society’, represented the most advanced form of social organization to date. But he also thought that working classes would come to power in worldwide socialist or communist transformation of human society as the end of the series of first aristocratic, then capitalist, and finally working class rule would be reached.
  6. According to Max Weber, Western Capitalism was, most generally, the “rational organization of formally free labor”. Industrial Society was characterized by Market Economy for Weber.

Market Economy:

  1. Market or Free economy is characterized by a system in which the allocation of resources is determined by supply and demand in the market. Both the production and distribution is determined by the market forces to ensure competition and efficiency .
  2. It has an effect on the traditional families. As a result of monetisation and market economy the different members of the family contribute to the family income and increased the avenues for social mobility.
  3. Their is rapid growth of industries in which the employee-employer relations are based on contractual relations. Work has become the commodity which is exchanged for wages.
  4. Expansion of markets has increased the volume of trade and commerce facilitating the integration of the country and different societies.
  5. Growth of economy leads to occupational diversification and increasing specialization of occupations which in turn has created a demand for educational institutions to provide specialized training.
  6. Due to industrialization and expansion of market economy in urban areas leads to consumption oriented life-style.
  7. Market economy governed by supply and demand is inherently unstable. This leads to anomie which is characteristic of urban life. Inflation also poses constant threat to instability in the urban markets.

New Innovation of work organization in Industrial Society


Taylor’s approach to what he called ‘scientific management’ involved the detailed study of industrial processes in order to break them down into simple operations that could be precisely timed and organized. (Scientific management came to be called as Taylorism)

  • Taylorism, (as scientific management came to be called) was not merely an academic study. It was a system of production designed to maximize industrial output, and it had a widespread impact not only on the organization of industrial production and technology, but also on workplace politics as well.
  • In particular, Taylor’s time-and-motion studies wrested control over knowledge of the productions process from the worker and placed such knowledge firmly in the hands of management, eroding the basis on which cart or traditional workers maintained autonomy from their employers. (As such, Taylorism has been widely associated with the deskilling and degradation of labour.)

The principles of Taylorism were appropriated by the industrialist Henry Ford. One of Ford’s most significant innovations was the introduction of the assembly line industry. Each worker on Ford’s assembly line was assigned a specialized tasks, such as fitting the left side door handles as the car bodies moved along the line.

  • Ford was among the first to realize that mass production requires mass markets. He reasoned that if standardized commodities such as the automobile were to be produced on an ever-greater scale, the presence of consumers who were able to buy those commodities must also be assured. In 1914 Ford took the unprecedented step of unilaterally raising wages at his Dearborn, Michigan, plant to $5 for an eight-hour day a very generous wage at the time and one that ensured a working class lifestyle that included owning such as automobile.
  • Fordism is the name given to designate the system of mass production tied to the cultivation of mass markets. In certain contexts, the term has a more specific meaning, referring to a historical period in the development of post-second world War capitalism, in which mass production was associated with stability in labour relations and high degree of unionization.
  • Under Fordism, firms made long term commitments to workers, and wages were tightly linked to productivity growth. As such, collective bargaining agreements formal agreements negotiated between firms and unions that specified working conditions such as wages, seniority rights, and benefits and so on- closed a virtuous circle that ensured worker consent to automated work regimes and sufficient demand for mass-produced commodities. This system is generally understood to have broken down in the 1970s, giving rise to greater flexibility and insecurity in working conditions.
The limitations of Taylorism and Fordism:

The reasons for the demise of Fordism are complex and intensely debated. As firms in a variety of industries adopted Fordist production methods, the system encountered certain limitations.

  • The system can only be applied successfully in those industries, such as car manufacture that produce standardized produces for large markets.
  • To set up mechanized production lines is enormously expensive, and once a Fordist system is established, it is quite rigid; to alter a product, for example substantial reinvestment is needed.
  • Fordist production is easy to copy if sufficient funding is available to set up the plant. But firms in countries where labour power is expensive find it difficult to compete with those where wages are cheaper. This was one of the factors originally leading to the rise of the Japanese car industry (although Japanese wage levels today are no longer low) and subsequently that of South Korea.
  • Fordism and Taylorism are what some industrial sociologists call low-trust system. Jobs are set by management and are geared to machines. Those who carry out of the work tasks are closely supervised and are allowed little autonomy of action. In order to maintain discipline and high- quality production standards, employees are con-tenuously monitored through various surveillance systems.
  • This constant supervision, however, tends to- produce the opposite of its intended result: the commitment and morale of workers is often eroded because they have little say in the nature of their jobs or in how they are carried out. In workplace with many low-trust positions, the level of worker dissatisfaction and absenteeism is high, and industrial conflict is common. (A high-trust system, by contrast, is one in which workers are permitted to control the pace, and even the content, of their work, within overall guidelines. Such systems are usually concentrated at the higher levels of industrial organizations. As we shall see, hightrust systems have become more common in many work places in recent decades, transforming the very way we think about the organization and execution of work.)

Research carried out by Mayo at the General Electric Company in Chicago concluded that group relationships and management-worker communication were far more important in determining employee behaviour than physical conditions (e.g. lighting and noise) and the working practices imposed by management. Also, wage levels were not the dominant motivating factor for most workers.

In many respects this work paved the way for the volume of research that followed, looking at employee behaviour, motivation and so on.

Key proposition of Elton Mayo: Further research established the following propositions of the human relations school.

  • Employee behaviour depends primarily on the social and organisational circumstances of work.
  • Leadership style, group cohesion and job satisfaction are major determinants of the outputs of the working group.
  • Employees work better if they are given a wide range of tasks to complete.
  • Standards set internally by a working group influence employee attitudes and perspectives more than standards set by management.
  • Individual workers cannot be treated in isolation, but must be seen as members of a group.
  • Monetary incentives and good working conditions are less important to the individual than the need to belong to a group.
  • Informal or unofficial groups formed at work place have a strong influence on the behavior of those workers in a group.
  • Managers must be aware of these ‘social needs’ and cater for them to ensure that employees collaborate with the official organization rather than work against it.

The usefulness of the human relations approach:
  • The school explicitly recognised the role of interpersonal relations in determining workplace behaviour, and it demonstrated that factors other than pay can motivate workers.
  • However, the approach possibly overestimates the commitment, motivation and desire to participate in decision making of many employees.

The term is used to refer to a set of overlapping changes that are occurring not only in the realm of work and economic life, but throughout society as a whole.

  1. In recent decades, flexible practices have been introduced in a number of spheres, including product development style, the working environment, employee involvement and marketing. Some commentators have suggested that, taken collectively, these changes represent a radical departure from the principles of Fordism; they contend that we are no operating in a period that can best by understood as post Fordism.
  2. The phrase “Post-Fordism.” was popularized by Michael Piore and Charles Sabel in their book ‘The second Industrial Divide (1984)’, and describes a new era of capitalist economic production in which flexibility and innovation are maximized in order to meet market demands for diverse, customized products.
  3. Despite the confusion surrounding the term, several distinctive trends within the world of work have emerged in recent decades that seem to represent a clear departure from earlier Fordist practices. These include the ‘DECENTRALIZATION OF WORK INTO NONHIERARCHICAL TEAM GROUPS OR GROUP PRODUCTION’ the idea of ‘FLEXIBLE PRODUCTION’ & ‘MASS CUSTOMIZATION’, the spread of ‘GLOBAL PRODUCTION’ and the introduction of a ‘MORE FLEXIBLE OCCUPATIONAL STRUCTURE’.
  4. Group production: Group production – collaborative work groups in place of assembly lines– have sometimes been used in conjunction with automation as a way of reorganizing work.
    • The underlying idea is to increase worker motivation by letting groups of workers collaborate in team production processes rather than requiring each worker to spend the whole day doing a single repetitive task, like inserting the screws in the door handle of a car.
    • An example of group production is “quality circles (QCs)”, groups of between five and twenty workers who meet regularly to study and resolve production problems. Workers who belong to QCs receive extra training, enabling them to contribute technical knowledge to the discussion of production issues. QCs were They represent a break from the assumptions of Taylorism, since they recognize that workers possess the expertise to contribute towards the definition and method of the tasks they carry out.
    • The positive effects of group production on workers can include the acquisition of new skills, increased autonomy, reduced managerial supervision and growing pride in the goods and services that they produce.
    • However, studies have identified a number of NEGATIVE CONSEQUENCES of Group production. Although direct managerial authority is less apparent in a team process, other forms of monitoring exist, such as supervision by other team works. The American sociologist LAURIE conducted study at the Japanese- owned Subaru-Isuzu car plant based in Indiana, in the USA, and found that peer pressure from other workers group to achieve greater productivity was relentless. One co-worker told her that after initially being enthusiastic about the team concept, she found that peer supervision was just a new means of management trying to work people to death. GRAHAM (1995) also found that Subaru-Isuzu used the group- production concept as a means of resisting trade unions, their argument being that if management and workers were on the same ‘team’ then there should be no conflict between the two. In other words, the good ‘team player’ doesn’t complain.

Studies like Graham’s have led sociologists to conclude that while team-based production processes provide workers with opportunities for less monotonous forms for work, systems of powers and control remain the same in the workplace.

  1. Flexible production and mass customization: One of the most important changes in worldwide production processes over the past few years has been the introduction of computer-aided design and flexible production. While Taylorism and Fordism were successful at producing mass products (that were unable to produce small order of goods, let alone goods specifically made for an individual customer.
  2. Stanley Davis in his observation found the emergence of mass customizing. The new technologies allow the large-scale production of items designed for particular customers. Five thousand shirts might be produced on an assembly line each day. It is now possible to customize every one of the shirts just as quickly as, and at no greater expense than, procuring five thousand identical shirts.
    • While flexible production has produced benefits for consumer and the economy as a whole, the effect on workers, has not been wholly positive. Though workers do learn new skills and have less monotonous jobs, flexible production can create a completely new set of pressures which result from the need to coordinate the complex production process carefully and to produce the results quickly. Laurie Grahama’s study of the Subaru-Isuzu factory documented instances when workers were left waiting until the last minute for critical parts in the production process. As a result, employees were forced to work longer and more intensely to keep up with the production schedule, without additional, compensation.
    • Enthusiastic proponents argue that mass customization offers nothing short of a new Industrial Revolution, a development as momentous as the introduction of mass production techniques in the previous century. Skeptics, however, are quick to point out that as currently practiced, mass customization only creates the illusion of choice- in reality, the options available to the Internet customer are no greater than those offered by a typical mailorder catalogue (Collins 2000.)
  3. Global production: Changes in industrial production include not only how products are manufactured, but also where products are manufactured, as we saw with the example of the Barbie doll. For much of the twentieth century, the most important business organizations were larger manufacturing firms that controlled both the making of goods and their final sales.
    • During the past twenty or thirty years, however, another form of production has become important- one that is controlled by giant retailers. In retailer- dominated production, firms such as the American. Retailer Wal-Mart- which in 2000 was the world’s second largest corporation- buy products from manufactures, who in turn arrange to have their products made by independently owned factories.
    • The American sociologists Edna Bonacich and Richard Appelbaum (2000) show that in clothing manufacturing, most manufacturers actually employ no garment workers at all. Instead, they rely on thousands of factories around the world to make their clothing, which they then sell in department stores and other retail outlets.
    • Bonacich and Appelbaum argue that such competition has resulted in a global ‘race to the bottom’ in which retailers and manufacturers will go to any place on earth where they can pay the lowest wages possible. One result is that much of the clothing we buy today is likely to have been made in sweatshops by young workers probably teenage girls- who get paid athletic shoes that sell for tens, if not hundreds of pounds.
Criticisms of post-Fordism:
  1. One common criticism is that post-Fordist analysts are exaggerating the extent to which Fordist practices have been abandoned. What we are witnessing is not a wholesale transformation, as advocates of post- Fordism would have us believe, but the integration of some new approaches into traditional Fordist techniques. This argument has been adopted by those who claim we are actually experiencing a period of neo-Fordism- that is, modifications to the traditional Fordist techniques (Wood 1989).
  2. It has been suggested that the idea of a smooth linear transition form Fordist to postFordist techniques overstates the true nature of work at both ends. ANNA POLLERT (1988) has argued that Fordist techniques were never as entrenched as some would have us believe. It is also an exaggeration, she contends, that the age of mass production has passed in favour of total flexibility. She points out that mass production techniques still dominate in many industries, especially those that are aimed at consumer markets. According to Pollert, economic production has always been characterized by a diversity of techniques rather than a standard, unified approach.


In 1973, sociologist Daniel Bell noted that a new type of society was emerging. He described the essential changes that are accompanying the emergence of a POST-INDUSTRIAL SOCIETY, one that relies on intellectual technologies of telecommunications and computers, not just “large computers but computers on a chip”

This new postindustrial society has six characteristics:

1) A service sector so large that most people work in it,
(2) A vast surplus of goods,
(3) Even more extensive trade among nations
(4) A wider variety and quantity of goods available to the average person
(5) An information explosion
(6) A global village where the world’s nations are linked by fast communications, transportation and trade.

In addition to the associated technology, a substantial proportion of the working population employed in service, sales, and administrative support occupations distinguishes postindustrial societies. There is an extraordinary rise in the percentage of workers in management, professional, and related occupations. There is an increased emphasis on education as the avenue of social mobility.

  1. This has led to an opportunity, the dominance of intellectual technology based on mathematics and linguistics in the form of algorithms, programs (software), models, and simulations the creation of an electronically mediated global communication infrastructure, which includes broadband, cable, digital TV, optical fiber networks, fax, e-mail and ISDN (integrated system digital networks) an economy defined not simply by the production of goods and labor-saving devices but by applied knowledge as the source of invention and innovation and by the manipulation of numbers, words, images, and other symbols.
  2. The jobs associated with this knowledge driven, information based economy include computer programmers, technical writers, financial analysts, market analysts, and customer-service representatives. The challenge of post-industrial society is interpersonal, as the “basic experience of each person’s life is his relationship between himself and others.” In an environment that emphasizes knowledge and interpersonal relationships, the institutions of science and education take center stage.
  3. With regard to science, Bell described the rise and importance of science-based industries, which involve applications of theoretical knowledge. These industries are fundamentally different from the industries of the Industrial Revolution, such as steel, automobile, and telephone. For the most part, these industries were “founded or created by talented thinkers” who were not connected to the scientific establishment.
  4. Post-industrial industries derive directly from the investigations of scientists into the basic phenomena of nature and the applications of this research to technological problems.
  5. Education becomes key to negotiating an information society and is viewed as something that takes place across the lifespan, not con- fined to a specific time or place.



The globalizing of economic production, together with the spread of information technology, is altering the nature of the jobs most people do. As discussed in chapter 9, the proportion of people working in blue collar jobs in industrial countries has progressively fallen. Fewer people work in factories than before. New jobs have been created in offices and in service centres such as supermarkets and airports. Many of these new jobs are filled by women.

Women and Work:
  1. For the vast majority of the population in pre-industrial societies (and many people in the developing world), productive activities and the activities of the house hold were not separate. Production was carried on either in the home or nearby, and all members of the family participated in work on the land or in handicrafts. Women often had considerable influence within the household as a result of their important in economic processes, even if they were excluded from the male relams of politics and warfare. Wives of craftsmen and farmers often kept business accounts and widows quite commonly owned and managed businesses.
  2. Much of this changed with the separation of the workplace from the home brought about by the development of modern industry. The movement of production into mechanized factories was probably the largest single factor. Work was done at the machine’s pace by individuals hired specifically for the tasks in question, so employers gradually began to contract workers as individuals rather than families.
  3. With time and the progress of industrialization, an increasing division was established between home and work place. The idea of separate spheres public and private- became entrenched in popular attitudes. Men, by merit of their employment outside the home, spent more time in the public realm and became more involved in local affairs, politics and the market. Women became to be associates with ‘domestic’ values and were responsible for tasks such as child care, maintaining the home and preparing food for the family. The idea that ‘a women’s place is in the home’ had different implications for women at varying levels in society. Affluent women enjoyed the services of maids, nurses and domestic servants. The burdens were harshest for poorer women, who had to cope with the household chores as well as engaging in industrial work to supplement their husband’s income.
  4. Rates of employment of women outside the home, for all classes, were quite low until well into the twentieth century. The female labour force consisted mainly of young single women, whose wages, when they worked in factories or offices, were often sent by their employers direct to their parents. Once married, they generally withdrew from the labour force and concentrated on family obligations.
The growth-in- women’s economic activity
  1. Women’s participation in the paid labour force has risen more or less continuously over the last century. One major influence was the labour shortage experienced during the First world War. During the war years, women carried out many jobs previously regarded as the exclusive province of men. On returning from the war, men again took over most of those jobs, but ht pre-established pattern had been broken.
  2. In the years since the second world War, the gender division of labour has changed dramatically.
  3. There are a number of reasons why the gap in economic activity rates between men and women have been closing in recent decades. First, there have been changes in the scope and nature of the tasks that have traditionally been associated with women and the ‘domestic sphere. As the brith rate has declined and the average age of childbirth has increased, many women now take on paid work before having children and return to work afterwards. Smaller families have meant that the time many women previously spent at home caring for young children has been reduced. The mechanization of many domestic tasks has also helped to cut down the amount of time that needs to be spent to maintain the home. Automatic dishwashers, vacuum cleaners and washing machines have made the domestic workload less labour- intensive.
  4. There are also financial reasons why a growing number of women have entered the labour market. The traditional nuclear family model- Composed of a male bread winner, female housewife and dependent children- now accounts for only a quarter of families in Britain. Economic pressures on the household, including a rise in male unemployment, have led more women to seek paid work. Many households find that two incomes are required in order to sustain a desired lifestyle. Other changes in household structure, including high rates of single hood and childlessness as well as a growth in lone- mother house holds, has meant that women outside traditional families have also been entering the labour market- either out of choice or necessity. Additionally, recent efforts to reform welfare policies, both in Britain and the United States, have aimed to support women- including lone mothers and married women with small children in entering paid work.
  5. Finally, it is important to note that many women have chosen to enter the labour market out of a desire for personal fulfillment and in response to the drive for equality propelled forward by the women’s movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Having gained legal equality with men, many women have seized on opportunities to realize these rights in their own lives. As we have already noted, work is central in contemporary society and employment is almost always a prerequisite for living an independent life. In recent decades women have made great strides towards parity with men; increased economic activity has been central to this process (Crompton 1997).
Gender and inequalities at work

Despite possessing formal equality with men, women still experience a number of inequalities in the labour market.

  1. Occupational segregation: Women worker have traditionally been concentrated in poorly paid, routine occupations. Many of these jobs are highly gendered – that is, they are commonly seen as ‘women’s work’s Secretarial and caring jobs (such as nursing, social work an child care) are overwhelmingly held by women and are generally regarded as feminine occupations. Occupational gender segregation refers to the fact that men and women are concentrated in different types of jobs, based on prevailing understanding of what is appropriate ‘male’ and ‘female’ work.
  2. Concentration in part-time work: Although increasing numbers of women now work full time outside the home, a large number are concentrated in part-time employment. In recent decades, opportunities for part-time work have grown enormously, partly as a result of labour market reforms to encourage flexible employment policies and partly due to the expansion of the service sector (Crompton 1997). Part-time jobs are seen as offering much greater flexibility for employees than full time work. For this reason they are often favoured by women who are attempting to balance work and family obligations. In many cases this can be done successfully, and women, who might otherwise forgo employment become economically active. Yet part time work carries certain disadvantages, such as low pay, job insecurity and limited opportunities for advancement.
  3. The wage gap: The average pay of employed women in Britain is well below that of men, although the difference has narrowed somewhat over the past thirty years. Several processes have affected these trends. One significant factor is that more women are moving into higherpaying professional positions than was earlier the case. Young women with good qualifications are now as likely as their male counterparts to land lucrative jobs. Yet this progress at the top of the occupational increase in the number of women in low paid part-time jobs within the rapidly expanding service sector. Occupational segregation by gender is one of the main factors in the persistence of a wage gap between men and women. Women are over- represented in the more.
Changes in the domestic division of labour
  1. One of the results of more women entering paid work is that certain traditional family patterns are being renegotiated. The ‘male breadwinner’ model has become the exception rather than the rule, and women’s growing economic independence has meant that they are between placed to move out of gendered roles at home if they choose to do so. Both in terms of housework and financial decision-making, women’s traditional domestic roles are undergoing significant changes. There appears to be a move towards more egalitarian relationships in many households, although women continue to shoulder the main responsibility for most housework.
  2. Studies show that married women employed outside the home do less domestic work than others, although they almost always bear the main responsibility for care of the home. The pattern of their activities is no course rather different They do more housework in the early evenings and for longer hours at weekends than to those who are full-time housewives.
  3. A survey conducted by Warde and Hetherington (1993) in Manchester revealed that the domestic division of labour was more egalitarian among young couples than among those of older generations. The authors concluded that over time, gender stereotypes are loosening. Young people who were raised in households with parents who attempted to share domestic tasks were more likely to implement such practices in their own lives.
  4. Vogler and Pahl (1994) examined a different aspect of the domestic division of labour- that of household financial man agreement systems. Their study sought to understand whether women’s access to money and to control over spending decisions had become more egalitarian with the increase in female employment. Through interviews with couples in six different British communities, they found the distribution of financial resources to be, on the whole, done more fairly that in the past, but \that it remained interlinked with class issues. Among higher income couples, ‘pooled’ finances tended to be managed jointly and there was a greater degree or equality in accessing money and making spending decision. The more a woman contributes to the household financially, the greater the level of control she exercises over financial decisions.
  5. In families with lower income, women were often responsible for the day-to- day management of household finances, but were not necessarily in charge of strategic decisions about budgeting and spending. In these cases, Vogler and Pahl noted a tendency for women to protect their husbands access to spending omen while depriving themselves of the soma eight. In other words, there appeared to be a disjunction between women’s everyday control over finances and their access to money.

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