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on mass production created a “second industrial

revolution” (Chandler, The Visible Hand, 1977).

Bureaucratic management first appeared in railroads

and the telegraph, based on West Point

military hierarchical command and control. It

quickly spread to mass retail and mail order; Sears

Roebuck was processing 100,000 orders per day

by 1905. This was accompanied by the creation

of the mass consumer by advertising and the

“democratization of luxury,” according to Weber.

A populist political backlash against banking

“money trusts” produced a departure from the

path taken in Germany to the joint-stock system

of diffused mass stock/share ownership. The

“roaring Twenties” culminated in the Wall Street

Crash (1929) and were followed by the ideological

relegitimization of capitalism, as occurred after

the early 21st-century technology stock crash and

the corporate frauds in Enron, Worldcom, and

other corporations. In the 1930s, this involved

the professionalization (see profession[s]) of management

in Taylorism and scientific management.

Managers were portrayed as the technically expert

guardians of a “peoples’ capitalism,” in which

dispersed shareholding separated ownership from

(management) control.

These vertically integrated enterprises gained

competitive advantage by greater control and

calculation of speed of throughput, based on a

further reduction of transactions costs and an extension

of control over labor by assembly-line technology.

They were multinational from the outset.

By 1914, American direct investment abroad, at 7

percent of Gross National Product, was as high as

firms firms


in the 1960s; and, by the late 1920s, Ford and

General Motors had firms in Britain and Europe.

However, this mode of capitalist regulation,

based on monopoly mass production and mass

consumption could be limited, as John Maynard

Keynes realized, by a lack of “effective demand.”

The underconsumption/overproduction crises

of the 1930s were overcome by the post World-

War-II “warfare–welfare state,” based upon state

expenditure and the United States’ bid for global

dominance in order to capture foreign markets.

For example, the United States government supported

the European Common Market on condition

that there was no discrimination against

US multinationals.

As before, the successful capitalist organizational

innovation was emulated with varying

degrees of success by competitors with similar

results. There was an intensification of competition;

but innovators of earlier developments in

industrial organization may become locked in to

a path dependency that inhibits the adoption of

the next innovation. The French were quick

learners and, under state direction, systematically

set about Americanizing its industry. In contrast,

the fate of the British automobile industry is testimony

to continued difficulties with the adoption

of large-scale organization and mass production.

By the 1980s, it was argued, for example in

Michael Piore and Charles Sabel, The Second Industrial

Divide (1984), that the dominance of American

“dinosaur” corporations was being overcome by

new forms of organization: first, by flexible specialization

and informal networks/alliances between

small and medium-sized firms in local

industrial districts; and, second, by the challenge

of East Asian forms of industrial organization, especially

Japanese “relational contracting” and

“just-in-time” methods of vertically disintegrated

production chains. American corporations responded

to this competition by cutting costs with

the “downsizing” and “delayering” of management

and labor, in order to increase profitability

and “stockholder value.” By the late 1990s, the

large multi/transnational American enterprise had

survived as the dominant form of organization.

The modern capitalist enterprise is the site of

a struggle for its economic surplus. Reliance on

external finance from either banks or the stock

market and the growth of managerial bureaucracy

have rendered this conflict more complex

than the conflict between capital and wage labor

in the nineteenth-century family-owned firm, as

outlined by Marx. This question of “ownership

and control” or “corporate governance” was first

addressed in the stock-market-based American

economy by Adolf Berle and Gardner Means, in

The Modern Corporation and Private Property (1932).

They asserted that stock ownership in almost half

the largest American nonfinancial corporations

was so dispersed that no “dominant” ownership

interest was evident and, therefore, they must

be controlled by the managers. Coming after the

American Senate’s Pujo Committee’s (1913) critical,

populist “money-trust” interpretation of

US capitalism, and the Wall Street Crash, The

Modern Corporation and Private Property conveyed a

clear ideological message. “Managerialism” maintained

that managers were neutral technocratic

guardians of “peoples’ capitalism” in enterprises

in which there was no inherent conflict of interest

due to the widespread share ownership.

Marxist analyses of twentieth-century capitalism

have been influenced by Rudolph Hilferding’s

Finance Capital (1910 [trans. 1981]), which analyzed

the dominance of large banks in the German economy.

Until recently, the “finance capital” interpretation

was seen simply as an alternative to

Berle and Means’s “bourgeois managerialism.”

However, they are referring to two different patterns

of corporate financing – bank lending and

stock markets – and their effects on corporate


Research in the 1970s lent support to the “managerialist”

account of the American economy.

Echoing Keynes’s “euthanasia of the stockholder,”

John Kenneth Galbraith (1908–2006) argued in his

New Industrial State (1967) that the modern corporation

was controlled by a managerial “technostructure.”

Unlike owners with a direct financial

stake – that is, families, stockholders, banks, and

other financial interests – managers did not

pursue profit maximization, but, rather, growth,

sales, and prestige in order to consolidate their

power and security.

During this period of American “managed”

monopoly capitalism after World War II, financial

and creditor interests were less powerful. During

the 1970s, however, a combination of falling

profits, inflation, global recession, and a collapse

of the stock market led to a reassertion of financial

interests and a rebalancing of power between

creditors, stockholders, managers, and

workers. A new coalition of corporate managers,

investment-fund managers, and stockholders

aimed to “unlock shareholder value.” This new

neoliberal settlement reestablished the dominance

of financial interests as outlined in Geoffrey

Ingham, The Nature of Money (2004), and Neil

Fligstein, The Architecture of Markets (2001). In a

firms firms


wave of mergers, acquisitions, and hostile takeovers

during the 1980s, managers’ interests were

aligned with those of the stockholders with the

use of stock options as managerial remuneration.

Unsatisfactory performance brought the threat

of a hostile takeover or of a “leveraged buyout”

(LBO) by a new class of financial entrepreneurs

such as Kohlberg Kravis Roberts. The resulting

private companies fell under the financial discipline

of the new owners and, with its management

holding stock options, they released the “free

cash flow” to shareholders. According to Doug

Henwood in Wall Street (1997), “An LBO is a form

of class struggle.”

In The Political Determinants of Corporate Governance

(2003), Mark Roe has extended this analysis

and argued that the Anglo-American type of large

corporation based on the separation of diffuse

stockholder ownership and management control

is incompatible with social democratic political

systems based on high levels of employment security

and welfare. In these circumstances,

management and workers both benefit from the

maximization of growth and employment rather

than profits. Unless the interests of shareholders

and management can be aligned as they were in

the United States and Britain in the 1980s, then,

shareholders will find it difficult to impose

the changes that might maximize “shareholder

value.” Strong social democracies, such as those

of continental Europe, with high levels of welfare,

job security, and takeover controls encourage

management to define their interests in terms

of security and the avoidance of risk and radical

change. In order to resist this alliance of management

and workers, ownership is more concentrated

in the hands of banks and families – as

in France, Germany, and Italy. On the basis of

empirical evidence, Roe identifies two patterns of

corporate governance and social democratic politics

in the fifteen wealthiest nations during the

post-World-War-II period: (1) diffuse ownership

and low social democracy – for example, the

United States, Britain; and (2) concentrated ownership

and high social democracy – for example,

Germany, Italy, France. Globalization appears to

be changing the latter pattern. The deregulation

of capital markets is leading to the erosion of concentrated

bank and family ownership in national

economies and stronger shareholder interests in

the form of global investment funds. With the

intensification of global competition, shareholder

interests exert pressure to replace employment

security and social welfare with economic “flexible”

labor market policies. GEOFFREY INGHAM

First Nations

These are peoples asserting a common cultural

and linguistic heritage and descent from common

ancestors who were the original and enduring

inhabitants of circumscribed territories later

absorbed into modern states. Most broadly conceived,

they constitute what is often called the

Fourth World and include all of the aboriginal

populations of the Americas and of Australia;

the Inuit and Aleut peoples of the American and

Eurasian Arctic; the transhumant pastoralists of

Scandinavia, Russia, and the Balkans; minority

populations of the insular Pacific such as the

Japanese Ainu and natives of Hawaii; the Hmong

of China and Laos; peoples of Africa such as the

Pygmies, the Nuer, and the San; and many others.

More narrowly conceived, they are those Native

American peoples formerly referred to as “bands”

that the government of Canada officially recognizes

as being entitled in principle to selfgovernment.

The term First Nations emerged in

Canada during the later 1970s and its use is still

far more common there than elsewhere. Native

American bands began to adopt it as a selfdesignation

in the course of asserting their right

to be recognized as one of the “founding nations”

of Canada, together with the English and the

French. They effectively established it as a selfdesignation

at the First Nations’ Constitutional

Congress, convened by the now-defunct National

Indian Brotherhood in 1980. There are currently

more than 600 First Nations in Canada and their

numbers are likely to grow as smaller and more

scattered populations win governmental recognition

in future decades. They do not, however,

and probably will never include the Metis, a large

population descending from unions between

French colonists and Native Americans that is concentrated

especially in the southeast of Canada

and has episodically but enduringly cultivated

a distinctive nationalism of its own. The situation

of the Metis nevertheless points to one of the

most controversial aspects of the very concept of

“First Nations,” whether broadly or narrowly

conceived – that of what degree of cultural and

genealogical “purity” is necessary, and what other

criteria are sufficient, to establish membership.


flexible specialization

This term was introduced in the 1980s to redescribe

a familiar type of labor process and to

identify a new type of economic strategy in response

to the crisis of Fordism. It refers to the

firms flexible specialization


use of flexible machinery by skilled or craft labor

to produce a wide range of products to exploit

economies of scope. It is contrasted with Fordist

mass production, which involves the use of dedicated

machinery and plant by semi-skilled labor

to produce long runs of standardized products to

exploit economies of scale. It would be wrong to

see these as the only types of labor process. There

are many other ways to organize this, depending

both on the nature of the products and on the

dominant social relations.

Michael Piore and Charles Sabel argued in The

Second Industrial Divide: Possibilities for Prosperity

(1984) that the growing displacement of craft production

by mass production in the late nineteenth

century was more the result of a paradigm shift

produced by social and political struggles than to

inherent technical superiority. They suggested

that the crisis of Fordist mass production was

an opportunity to revive craft production in the

form of flexible specialization. And they also

claimed that success in this regard would usher

in a democratic republic of craft workers in control

of their working lives, for flexible specialization

reskills and empowers workers so that

they were no longer simple appendages to the

machine. This combination of advocacy and analysis

has been a marked feature of the flexiblespecialization

literature and makes it vital to

distinguish between: (1) the theoretical and historical

claims made for flexible specialization as

an ideal type of production organization; and (2)

the normative-political claims made for it as an

idealized type of production organization that

should therefore be adopted.

Analysts and advocates of flexible specialization

normally identify three variants: (1) a small-firm

variant exemplified in the industrial districts

characteristic of the Third Italy, an industrial

region that was initially created in the 1950s and

1960s to foster co-operation between small, craftbased

firms; (2) a West German model based on

internal decentralization of large firms; and (3)

the Japanese just-in-time production model based

on large firms’ sponsorship of complex, multilayered

subcontracting networks. In each case,

productivity and innovation depend on collective

efficiency and economies of scope in the use of

flexible machinery and flexible labor. In the

first variant, a key role is played by local authorities

and consortia of small firms. The second and

third variants, in contrast, involve the delegation

of financial, marketing, and research services

to a combination of semi-autonomous internal

business units and cooperative external suppliers.

These examples all involve “offensive flexibility,”

that is, forms of flexibility that promote

high-quality production and high productivity.

There are also “defensive” forms that involve

hire-and-fire labor markets, flexi-wages (including

downward flexibility), and a focus on cost reductions.

While offensive flexibility may prove

sustainable in the medium term, defensive flexibility

is more likely to be a short-term solution.


focus group

This research method is designed to generate

data on group beliefs and group norms by capturing

intra-group interaction in specially composed

groups (a range of differently composed groups

is normally required), where the researcher seeks

to facilitate and record that interaction. Although

methods akin to focus groups were used by academic

sociologists researching the persuasiveness

of United States government World War II

propaganda, focus group methods are a crossover

method from commercial market research.

However, as Michael Bloor, Jane Frankland,

Michelle Thomas, and Kate Robson have pointed

out in Focus Groups in Social Research (2001), there

is now a divergence between market research

and academic social research in their uses of

focus groups. The former primarily uses focus

groups as a locale for conducting group interviews.

In the latter, rather than conduct a question-

and-answer session with the group, the

facilitator seeks to generate intra-group discussions

which are illustrative of group norms.

A focus group should also be distinguished

from a delphi group, a panel of experts which

may be repeatedly consulted or reconvened to

derive authoritative consensus statements of

group belief or policy.

Facilitators typically seek to generate a general

discussion by asking the group to perform a set

task, or focusing exercise. A common type of task

is a ranking exercise, where the group will be

asked to look at a series of statements and then

rank them in order of correctness or importance.

Fictitious vignettes may also be presented and

the group may be asked to discuss what action

the central character in the vignette should

undertake next. Analysis of focus groups is normally

based on the study of transcripts of audiorecordings.

Email communication has permitted

research using virtual focus groups, where the

facilitator/moderator operates a closed email distribution

list. Such groups can have many more

participants than conventional focus groups

flexible specialization focus group


and, of course, have no attendance and/or

transcription costs.

Focus groups are used more frequently as an

ancillary method than as the main research instrument.

They are often used in pilot studies for

larger projects to collect data on group norms

and on everyday language use, in order to assist

in planning the next phase of the investigation.

Focus groups are also often used at the close of

projects to collect feedback from respondents on

preliminary research findings.

Whether or not it is preferable for focus group

members to be known to each other has been a

matter of controversy. It has been argued that,

by recruiting from pre-existing friendship groups,

work groups, and so on, focus group researchers

may be able to tap into group interactions that

approximate to naturally occurring data, which

might otherwise be only slowly accumulated by

an ethnographer. However, in research on sensitive

topics there is a real danger of over-disclosure

by animated participants.

The fashionableness of focus group methods

had looked set to wane due to difficulties with

recruitment and analysis. But the development

of virtual focus groups has ensured their continuing


folk religion

– see religion.


– see norm(s).


The economic, social, and symbolic significance

of food is a highly complex interdisciplinary topic

of study which sociology, understandably, has addressed

in only some aspects, and then unevenly.

The diversity and complexity of the topic has

resulted in its analysis through many different

theoretical lenses – of political economy, structuralism,

feminism, poststructuralism, actor network

theory, conventions theory – and via historical,

institutional, and developmental approaches.

For most people throughout history, food

production has involved local, small-scale organization

for household consumption, with the implication

that what was eaten was seasonal and

limited by geography and climate. Industrialization

required, and supplied the means, to transform

food production. Urban populations could

not supply sufficient of their own raw materials,

impelling changes in agricultural techniques and

processes and new means of distribution. The

logic of industrial production also spread to food

as a product. Now a substantial part of food production

is organized on a global basis, by large

corporations, operating internationally, to grow,

process, and distribute foodstuffs. Rationalization

of production results in less employment (see

work and employment) in agriculture (a feature

of all societies undergoing modernization), larger

production units, and greater commodification

of food provision.

Contemporary agro-food studies encompass

issues associated with rural and economic sociology

in western societal contexts. Interest in the

organization of rural communities has declined

with the reduced size of rural populations and

their lesser dependence on employment in agriculture.

Instead attention has focused on the organization

of the food industries, particularly the

feature of organization into a chain of successive,

non co-located, commercial episodes of production

and exchange, of farming, processing, and

retailing, each with intermediating processes of

transportation and storage. Explaining the restructuring

of these connections, which themselves

vary for different types of produce, has

generated competing theoretical frameworks of

various provenance, including world system

theory, regulation theory, commodity system and

commodity chain analysis, a systems-of-provision

approach, and later hybrid accounts paying greater

attention to the impact of local and cultural

diversity on food production.

One consequence of the increasingly global

span of the food chain is the greater visibility

of the unevenly developed supply of adequate

food. The highly secure, varied supply to the rich

countries contrasts markedly with continued

shortages and famines in other parts of the world.

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