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Emerging out of systems theory in the 1960s

was the approach known as contingency theory.

Organizations were still seen as systems but

they had to deal with specific contingencies that

shaped their structure, such as their size, technology,

environment, and the national culture in

which they were embedded. While the earlier

generation of researchers used case studies, contingency

research was characterized by survey

methods and larger samples, seeking to operationalize

factors identified in the earlier literature,

such as Weber’s fifteen dimensions of bureaucracy.

From the 1970s onwards, a number of new

currents emerged. First, the influence of the labor

process approach, derived from H. Braverman’s

Labor and Monopoly Capitalism (1974), spawned a

renewed fascination with case studies, such as

the work of M. Burawoy on Manufacturing Consent

(1979), many of which were reported in a series of

edited volumes that represented the work of the

labor process conference, held annually from

1983. Second, from the early 1980s onwards, there

was a renewed interest in Weberian theory, as a

result of two related trends. One was the reemergence

of institutional theory, after the publication

of P. DiMaggio and W. W. Powell’s seminal paper

on the “iron cage” in the American Journal of

Sociology (1984); the other was the popular success

of G. Ritzer’s Weberian-inspired analysis of organizational

rationalization in The McDonaldization of

Society (1993).

Further, from a sociological perspective, one

would have to count the influence of population

ecology, an approach influenced by general ecological

theory, which concentrates on populations

of organizations and changes at the population

level, typically dealing with big changes over large

datasets, across significant periods of time, often

using datasets that were not generated by the

researchers themselves but which were available

or constructed from available sets. The approach

was based more on the statistical testing of relations

between constructs than upon intimate

research knowledge. It was a sociological approach

premised on biological models but one whose

peak of influence seems to have passed. More recently,

in the 1990s and beyond, the influence of

Foucauldian-inspired genealogical analysis has

begun to make an impact on the field, perhaps

best represented in A. McKinley and K. Starkey’s

Foucault, Management and Organization Theory (1997).

Closely related, but hotly contested, are more postmodern

approaches, debates about which may be

found in E. Locke’s Postmodernism in Organizational

Thought (2003).

All of the above may safely be thought of as a

part of sociological approaches to organizations.

However, with the massive growth in business and

management programs across the world in the

recent past, today the vast majority of organization

theory is taught not in sociology but in business

and management faculties. Typically, the

definition of what constitutes organization theory

in such places may be less sociological than the

currents identified here. For instance, a number of

economic approaches to organization theory have

developed, the most significant of which is known

as transaction-cost analysis, as seen for example in

O. E. Williamson’s The Economic Institutions of Capitalism

(1985). Increasingly, organization and management

theory is being taught by people with

little or no trained capacity as sociologists – a

situation quite dissimilar to the generation of

work done in the aftermath of World War II.

Nonetheless, organization theory remains one of

the more populous and significant homes of applied

sociology. STEWART CLEGG

organizational culture

T. Peters and R. Waterman’s In Search of Excellence

(1982) placed organizational culture center stage.

The message was simple: great companies have

excellent cultures. Culture was typically defined

in terms that stressed a pattern of learned and

shared basic assumptions, framing how organization

members perceive, think, and feel. It was

presumed that if you forged a strong culture –

one that incorporates all organization members

in shared beliefs and commitments – then everything

else – good morale, performance, and

results – should follow. Having such a widely

shared and integrative culture in organizations

became seen as a panacea for management and

an algorithm for corporate success.

Organization theorists were relative latecomers

to the consideration of culture in the pantheon of

social science but may be said to have discovered

it quite early in the development of their field.

organization theory organizational culture


F. W. Taylor sought to create a single utilitarian

culture to minimize employee resistance and

maximize productivity – and, of course, earnings.

However, it is clear that Taylor in his Principles

of Scientific Management (1911) did not have an explicit

analytical focus on culture. The earliest

confirmed sighting seems to be when F. Roethlisberger

and W. Dickson realized, in Management

and the Worker (1939), that the most significant

variables governing the output at the Hawthorne

Plant appeared not to be physical but social. As

N. Mouzelis pointed out in Organization and Bureaucracy,

they defined the “culture of the group”

(1967: 99).

Since at least E. Mayo’s The Social Problems of an

Industrial Civilization (1975), managers have had

available the use of various types of expert knowledge

(psycho-technological and managerial) for

the management of culture. Increasingly, managers

have sought to regulate workers through

attending to their thoughts and emotions as

well as securing compliance for shaping workers’

attitudes and sentiments.

Recent approaches argue that organizational

culture will always be fragmentary (and contingent

on identities deriving from occupational, regional,

social class, ethnic, gender, and other

forms of social marker, under highly variable local

conditions). However, all approaches understand

cultures (whether fragmented or homogeneous) as

extremely important patterns that shape organizational

realities. Understanding organizations

means understanding their culture.



Although the medieval monastery became the

template for rational bureaucratic organization,

the transfer of the organization form to secular

society occurred primarily through the modern

state developing extensive bureaucracies, in

areas such as education. These forms were later

replicated in commerce and industry.

In industry, the central issue became the maximization

of private profit. Owners of capital had

to be able to exercise regular and routine dominion

and sway over the working lives of those on

whom its reproduction depended. Industrial property

owners could not rely on feudal fealty to

deliver able and willing bodies, as did the lords

of old; however, it was a matter of record that they

often found religious deference and piety to be

invaluable assets. Authority that could claim it

had God on its side stood a better chance of

success, as Max Weber realized in The Protestant

Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905 [trans. 2002]).

In the early days of industrialism, a combination

of heavy doses of paternalism, rough discipline,

and an efficient labor market buttressed less

secular sources of moral authority with sheer necessity.

More traditional relations could often

overlie the wage relations that mostly bound production.

In lieu of internalized religious ritual or

deference to feudal hierarchy, management control

seemed best assured through the routine disciplining

of those employed.

In small craft workshops, discipline was relatively

easy to enact, organized around mastery of

a specific knowledge, such as how to make barrels,

fabricate metal, or weave wool. In such a structure,

the master was presumed to know the craft,

which apprentices were presumed not to know

and had every motive for learning, so that they

too could become skilled workers. The master exercised

power by getting the apprentice to do

things in the favored way. Authority was based

on power unified with knowledge: masters owned

the workshop as well as expert knowledge of how

to work in it. Effective oversight was by direct

control of people in the workshop. The early days

of modern management and organizations were

bootstrapped. Primitive methods of surveillance

and drill were adapted, panopticons proposed,

and elements from preindustrial craft relations

incorporated. Bootstrapped solutions worked appropriately

for as long as the scale of enterprise

remained small.

There were two distinct shortcomings associated

with expanding scale. To grow large meant

expending capital. The capital in circulation in

the early industrial economy was relatively small

compared to that invested in landed estates. It was

raised mostly through merchants combining

credit with rented buildings and machinery, together

with cheap sources of labor. Keeping costs

low meant that, if the enterprise were to fail, the

liability and exposure of the emergent entrepreneurs

would be limited.

It was the institutional innovation of limited

liability legislation, pioneered first in Britain

in 1856, but widely copied internationally, that

enabled enterprises to grow by separating the

private fortunes of entrepreneurs from their investments

in business; if the latter failed, personal

fortunes were sequestered and the debtors’ prison

was avoided.

Limited liability legislation did not resolve the

problem of how to manage the vastly expanded

organization(s) organization(s)


enterprise. How was the master to achieve effective

governance over a vastly increased scale

of operations? Two resolutions to the puzzle of

how to ensure mastery were proposed: one adopted

a market solution while the other copied what

had already occurred in the large-scale public

service of the day and threw in its lot with


In firms that were taken over by use of the new

financial instruments, owners of previously independent

businesses were re-employed as internal

contractors to oversee the processes of labor.

One consequence of internal contracting – where

the contractor used materials, plant, and equipment

supplied by the owners but managed the

labor contracted to deliver a certain quantity of

product – was that quite different methods of

internal control could flourish in different plants

in the same industry. Standards were highly variable.

However, under pressure for more standardization

from both financial controllers and

emergent unions, internal contracting gave way

to a bureaucratization of relations of production

in large concerns, such that, by the early twentieth

century, Weber noted that bureaucracy had

become the fate of our times. Weber argued that

no special proof was required to demonstrate

that military discipline was the ideal model for

the modern capitalist factory in the early twentieth

century. Since that time, standardization – as

the blueprint for designing modern organizations

– has increasingly stressed being disciplined and

being visible. Order, discipline, and authority were

to become the organizational watchwords of the

new world under construction, and have remained

at the core of much organization ever since.



The modern debate about western views of the

Orient was significantly influenced by Edward

Said’s Orientalism (1978). However, the anthropological

controversy about “other cultures” can be

traced back to the European encounter with its

colonies, and hence, over an even longer period,

between Christianity and its antagonists. Said’s

controversial paradigm had the effect of establishing

the notion of “Orientalism” as a specific and

pervasive ideology about Asian societies. His

critique has laid the contemporary foundation

for an extensive inquiry into the problematic relationships

between power, sexual desire, religious

identity and cultural dominance.

Orientalism is a largely implicit paradigm

within which Oriental civilizations have been

understood by the West. It makes a clear distinction

between the Orient and the Occident, emphasising

the rationality, reflectivity, and dynamism

of the latter. In its sociological versions, Orientalism

has been associated with theories of modernization,

in which the Orient is regarded as

stationary and unchanging. One illustration is

the comparative sociology of Max Weber who

regarded rationalization and asceticism in Christian

sects as unique characteristics of western

modernity. The general argument of Orientalism

has been that the Orient has not experienced the

revolutions that shook the West, and hence has

not experienced an independent form of modernization.

Orientalists argue that, for example, Islam

is inherently incompatible with democracy. Orientalism

has been criticized, for example by Andre

Guider Frank, on the grounds that the paradigm

seriously underestimates the dynamic nature of

economic and social change in India and China.

In recent sociological debates about “otherness,”

Said’s criticisms of the Orientalist tradition

are typically associated with the critical social

theory of Michel Foucault. Representations of the

Orient are seen to be manifestations of an enduring

ideological paradigm that constructs the

Orient as an object of scientific knowledge. Said’s

analysis of Orientalism was also influenced

by Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis (1946 [trans. 1953]).

Written in Istanbul between 1942 and 1945,

and published in German, it was a study of the

literary practices by which reality was represented

through definite stylistic conventions. Said’s

Orientalism can be said to do for French literary

representations of the Orient what Mimesis attempted

more generically to do for western literature

as a whole. Said also relied heavily on

Raymond Schwab’s The Oriental Renaissance (1950

[trans. 1984]) that first provided the concept of

Orientalism in a study of western attitudes towards

India. In short, Said’s account of Orientalism

belongs to a recognizable heritage of western

self-reflection in the context of the engagement

with other cultures.

Said’s account of Orientalism has been criticized

because it failed, for example, to differentiate

clearly between French, British, and Spanish

views of the Orient. His work was largely focused

on the Middle East, and had little to say about

Asia. Despite the criticisms of Said, the debate

about Orientalism has produced a rich, critical

literature on the consequences of colonialism,

and the attempt to explain modernization comparatively

still remains a major task of the social

sciences. BRYAN S. TURNER

Orientalism Orientalism


Ossowski, Stanislaw (1897–1963)

A Polish sociologist writing on social structure,

methodology, social psychology, aesthetics, and

art, Ossowski led the post-Stalinist revival of

Polish sociology, served as a President of the Polish

Sociological Association (1956–63), and cofounded

the International Sociological Association.

While his analyses cover a wide range of

topics, Ossowski is best known for his synthesis

of humanistic (interpretive) sociology with rigorous

empirical analysis, and for his influential

study of Class Structure in the Social Consciousness

(1957 [trans. 1963]). He analyzed the three major

interpretations of the class structure: the functional,

stressing complementarity; the gradation

(“social ladder”) highlighting hierarchy; and the

polar one (owners versus workers) emphasizing

social antagonism. He identified the social functions

of these three interpretations: while functional

and gradation schemes were typically

embraced by the supporters of the social order in

the upper strata, the polar schemes served as

idioms of radical social contestation. The concept

of “classlessness” was used by Ossowski in his analyses

of gradation schemes popularized in the

United States and the “non-antagonistic” class

visions promoted in the then Soviet Union. In

this context, he pointed to the inadequacy of

Marxist class schemes for the analysis of social

hierarchy and division in modern industrial society.

Anticipating the criticism of class orthodoxy

by the students of industrial society, he suggested

that modernization brings increasing complexity

of social divisions. The social distribution of

privilege and disadvantage reflects not only

the control of the means of production, but

also – and increasingly – the control of the means

of compulsion (authority), and the means of

consumption. J AN PAKUL SKI

other-directed character

– see David Riesman.

oversocialized conception of man

– see Dennis Hume Wrong.

Ossowski, Stanislaw (1897–1963) oversocialized conception of man



panel study

These studies offer researchers the opportunity to

follow the same group of research participants

over time; they differ from cross-sectional studies

(although they may represent sub-components of

some cross-sectional studies) in that they allow

researchers to track changes in the views, attitudes,

and reported behaviors of a defined panel

on a longitudinal rather than “snapshot” basis.

Panel studies promise to analyze the effect of

“real-world” events on particular social groupings.

For classic examples of such studies, see the British

Household Survey or the University of Michigan –

Institute for Social Research’s Panel Study of

Income Dynamics (PSID), which has followed a

representative sample of 8,000 United States

households, or 65,000 individuals, since 1968.

Panels may be any social unit with a sufficient

degree of theoretical homogeneity to make the

study empirically compelling: thus panels may

consist in households, university graduates of

a given year (otherwise known as age-cohorts),

or other groupings with a common and datesensitive

life experience such as the birth of a first

child. Panels, once constituted, are regularly

mined for data, most often using interviews or

other standardized surveys, to explore the relationships

between lived experience, social factors,

and period effects.

Difficulties with panel studies are attrition (if

people are followed over months and years some

leave the area forgetting to provide a forwarding

address, emigrate, or die) a difficulty that may be

ameliorated by the adoption of a dynamic sample

panel whereby matching “replacement” panel

members are substituted for those who drop out.

Alternatively, the dynamic methodology may be

used to control for “experience bias” – that is to

say, respondents becoming practiced at providing

material that the researchers wish to hear.



– see Michel Foucault.


The concept of paradigm, used by Thomas Samuel

Kuhn in his classic book, The Structure of Scientific

Revolutions (1962), was taken from its use to describe

model “correct” sentences in Latin. Kuhn argued

that in science, scientific discourse was rooted in

exemplary achievements, such as experiments,

which served as models of the correct way to approach

scientific problems. Kuhn further argued

that major conceptual changes in science, which

he called scientific revolutions, typically consisted

of changes in what constituted a paradigmatic

achievement, what constituted a scientific problem,

what counted as evidence, and the meanings

of the terms themselves, which derives from their

place in practice and in the conceptual scheme.

He used psychological terms such as Gestalt and

sociological terms such as worldview to characterize

paradigms, emphasizing their pervasive worldconstituting

role, and emphasized the role of

scientific communities in sustaining them.

The most distinctive of the ideas making up the

concept of paradigm was also the most problematic

to Kuhn, namely incommensurability, meaning


Kuhn’s notion of scientific revolution raised the

question of what sense could be given to the notion

of progress in science or to the notion of science

as increasingly approaching higher degrees of


Pareto, Vilfredo (1848–1923)

An Italian economist and sociologist, active also in

Switzerland, his contributions to sociology fall

into two components. The first consists in aspects

of his outstanding work as an economic theorist

which have a direct bearing on questions of social

policy – for instance, a notion of “optimality”

which still bears Pareto’s name, or a statement of

the narrow limits within which policies for redistributing

wealth must operate. The second aspect

largely coincides with his expressly sociological

work, the massive Trattato di Sociologia (1916)

which was translated as The Mind and Society (1935).


Pareto considered sociology a science complementary

to economics. The latter deals with rational

conduct oriented to the maximization of

individual utility, while sociology deals with all

other forms of conduct, where non-rational motivations

and reasonings prevail. The Trattato transcended

this negative understanding of the near

totality of social experience by classifying the

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