Guide to the vibrant and



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marketmodels into a historical analysis of changing

“social structures of accumulation.” This represented

a more radical repudiation of orthodox economics,

but left considerable scope for arguments

about the coherence and consequences of such

segmentation.

These early analyses were primarily attempts

by American scholars to explain and critique entrenched

ethnic and gender inequalities. The next

phase was primarily European and particularly influenced

by feminist accounts of gender inequalities

in employment. This drew upon the earlier

work on the social organization of the demand

for labor by management, but noted that organized

workers could also influence this process.

More distinctively, it was emphasized that such

accounts must be complemented by analyses of

the social organization of the supply of labor. Labor

supply was influenced by existing institutionalized

patterns of labor demand, but also by developments

in state policies (involving training, welfare,

or industrial relations) and relatively autonomous

features of the social organization of gender relations

and households. These arguments prompted

particular attention to the ways in which labor

market segmentation took distinctive forms within

specific local and national contexts, linking

to wider debates on varieties of capitalism and

changing structures of opportunity and inequality

across societies, as in J. Rubery and D. Grimshaw’s

The Organization of Employment (2003).

Early segmented labor market models were primarily

designed to understand enduring divisions

and inequalities in the labor market. However,

recent analyses have also addressed changing

forms of labor market segmentation, especially

as employers and state policymakers embraced

policies of deregulation and flexibilization of

labor markets, but also as “equal opportunity”

policies opened possibilities to widen access to

internal job ladders. In the late 1980s, the “flexible

firm” model provided one influential account of

the dynamics of such labor market change. It recommended

the strategic construction of a dual

labor market: employers would gain labor flexibility

by constructing multifunctional teams (rather

than job ladders) for “core workers” and extending

various forms of disposability (such as part-time,

temporary, or agency work) among “peripheral

workers.”

However, this prescriptive model faced powerful

theoretical and empirical critiques, especially

from A. Pollert in “The ‘Flexible Firm’: Fixation

or Fact?” (1988) in Work, Employment and Society.

First, there were important continuities in the

institutional structuring of labor market inequalities,

while management policies often remained

reactive rather than strategic. Second, contemporary

developments were poorly captured by the

contrast between secure “core” and insecure “peripheral”

workforces. Some core workers were becoming

increasingly insecure, while the periphery

included employees with very different labor

market prospects (from well-paid, self-employed

“consultants” to day laborers in the shadow economy).

Current segmented labor market analyses

of the growth of different forms of “nonstandard”

employment have built on these criticisms. In

these accounts, the boundaries and internal composition

of existing labor market segments may be

reconstructed by new state and management policies,

but such policies remain characterized by

unresolved tensions, while the outcomes are also

influenced by wider institutional arrangements

and social settlements, as shown in A. Felstead

and N. Jewson (eds.), Global Trends in Flexible Labour

(1999). TONY ELGER

labor markets labor markets

319

labor movement



This refers to a major type of social movement,

traditionally addressing socioeconomic inequality

by means of its members’ engagement in collective

action to improve the living and working

conditions of its constituency. Historically, the

phenomenon emerged with western industrialization

(see industrial society), but its structure,

functions, and ideologies have changed with the

arrival of postindustrial society. Aside from the

United States, most advanced industrial countries

have well-institutionalized national union federations,

and labor or socialist parties. Industrialization,

however, is not a sufficient condition for

the emergence of labor movements, as the national

histories of developing and export-intensive

economies in the twentieth century show.

Before the rise of the labor movement, workers’

actions and industrial conflict mostly took the

formof disputes about pay and working-conditions,

with contenders asking fellow workers from other

craft shops to join, while awaiting the outcome

of negotiations between strike leaders and trade

masters. Nowadays, the labor movement manifests

itself in its bargaining agents’ negotiations,

through formal organizations, with employer,

and often state, representatives. The labor movement

has long been studied as a central force of

welfare state expansion; post-World War II economic

growth is interpreted as conditional upon

deals between business, government, and labor.

Social policy programs decrease the economic vulnerability

of the workforce and stimulate a sense

of social responsibility and solidarity among

workers. Generous welfare states raise wage floors

and increase labor costs, which, in the era of economic

globalization, together with complex labor

regulation, has been taken by capitalists as a prime

argument to relocate production to low-wage and

low-regulation economies. Welfare state policies

have also brought about new organized constituencies,

often autonomous from the labor movement

and thus having the perverse effect of

weakening the labor movement.

Trade unions represent the traditional core of

the labor movement, with collective bargaining as

their most routinized function, and strikes (see

industrial relations) and demonstrations as their

preeminent political tactics. First emerging in

England in the early nineteenth century, their

efforts to create alliances across trades soon

became part of a greater political landscape. The

national and international labor movement came

to involve participation from political parties as

well as voluntary associations concerned with

workers’ rights, and these became integral, and

often respectable, elements in the industrial relations

systems of the nation-states where they

emerged.


De-unionization is often used as a shorthand for

the erosion or disappearance of the labor movement

as a consequence of the shrinking of the

working class (both in terms of new recruitment

and retention) and of changes in identity, class consciousness,

and ideology. Recent studies of specific

industries, for example by Beverly Silver in Forces

of Labor (2003), show that patterns of labor unrest

shift together with geographic changes in production

locations around the globe, and thus collective

labor interest reemerges in relocated as well

as wholly new industries. Labor movements in

some parts of the world have become part of antiglobalization

movements, and their international

strength much depends on how they navigate the

North–South divide, particularly as to their role

in industrial protectionism, and the extent to

which labor interest can form coalitions with other

interest-group-based movements. ANN VOGEL

labor process

This process occurs when labor power is expended

to produce goods and services. Many scholars investigate

the labor process mainly in terms of its

technical dimensions but explicit concern with its

organization in different sites and at different

scales is largely associated with studies inspired

by Marxism. There is also significant feminist

work on the gendered dimensions of the labor

process and more general work on its broader

social and cultural dimensions.

The labor process involves both a technical

division of labor (see labor) and a social division

of labor. A complete account should consider the

articulation of both aspects in specific contexts.

The technical division of labor concerns the relation

among direct laborers (those who are directly

engaged in appropriating and transforming

nature), the instruments of production (such as

tools and machines), and the matter (raw materials

or intermediate products) on which they

work – all considered from the viewpoint of specific

embodied skills and specific products. It can

be studied at particular sites (for example individual

plants, offices, shops, or universities) or for particular

commodity chains (the entire labor process

for a given product fromthe initial appropriation of

nature through to its final consumption). The production

of services (for example live performances,

labor movement labor process

320


sexual services, pedagogy, emotional labor) also has

a technical division of labor, even if there is no

enduring material product. The social division of

labor concerns control over the allocation of labor

power within the labor process, over the organization

of the labor process, over decisions about what

to produce, and over the allocation of any surplus

production beyond what is required to renew labor

power, instruments of production, and inputs. This

raises issues of social domination, class exploitation,

and aspects of the labor process that are

not directly or primarily grounded in technical

aspects of production.

Analyses of the labor process in the modern

world are often restricted to commodity production

in a profit-oriented, market-mediated process

of economic organization. But there are also important

studies of substantive provisioning outside

the cash nexus, such as self-provisioning, unpaid

domestic labor, or activities in the informal economy;

and of the labor process in the state sector or

precapitalist societies. Some argue that only free

market competition ensures an efficient technical

division of labor and rational allocation of scarce

resources to competing ends. Others dispute this.

There are also major debates on the normative

dimensions of production.

Karl Marx analyzed the articulation of the technical

and social divisions of labor and argued that

this impelled the continual reorganization of the

labor process. He shows how capital, driven to

incessant innovation as the condition for its own

existence in competitive markets, transforms

technology and the technical division of labor.

Marx’s key innovation here is the distinction

between labor and labor power. Labor occurs

when the laborer expends energy in production;

labor power is the laborer’s capacity to labor. Marx

argues that capitalists purchase labor power and

must then mobilize this potential to ensure that

value is added in production. In doing so they

are subject to the pressures of capitalist competition.

Marx distinguished analytically between two

forms of such mobilization: (1) extending working

hours and/or increasing the physical intensity of

labor – this increases output based on “absolute

surplus value”; and (2) enhancing labor power’s

productivity by reorganizing the labor process so

that less time is needed for a given commodity –

resulting in relative surplus value. Capitalists

compete to reduce the socially necessary labor

time involved in commodity production and

thereby gain extra profits relative to their rivals

– but, as new ways of organizing the labor process

become generalized, these extra profits are competed

away. This creates permanent pressure to

reorganize the labor process, putting capitalists

and workers alike on an apparently unstoppable

treadmill. Whereas the younger Marx studied the

capitalist labor process in terms of alienation and

dehumanization, the later Marx did so in terms of

exploitation and capitalist laws of motion. One

feature of the labor process relevant to both approaches

is the separation between manual and

mental labor that occurs in capitalism, especially

during the phase of machinofacture. Marx’s

analyses also provide a basis for studying class

struggle, trade union organization, capitalist competition,

and attempts to control the innovation

process.


In addition to work on the generic features of

the capitalist labor process, there are many studies

on its different stages. These include the transition

from manufacture based on the use of tools in

simple or complex forms of cooperation (for

example pin manufacture), through machinofacture

(where the worker becomes an appendage to

the machine), to new forms of knowledge-based (or

postindustrial) production. There is also continuing

interest in various labor-process paradigms

(for example craft production, mass production,

continuous flow production, diversified quality

production, flexible specialization).

Marx rarely discusses what occurs once workers

enter the workplace, apart from allusions to their

subordination to the machine, “barrack-like discipline,”

and “factory codes.” But industrial sociologists

have made many studies of the labor

process in fields such as mining, fishing, agriculture,

automobile production, offices, schools, and

so forth; they have also examined unskilled, semiskilled,

skilled, supervisory, nonmanual, professional,

and managerial labor. Recent work has

also drawn on Michel Foucault’s analyses of disciplinary

power: organizing individuals in space, organizing

movement in time, and the training of

aptitudes, for example in Richard Marsden, The

Nature of Capital: Marx After Foucault (1999). There

are a few studies on the labor process and the (de)

formation of the body.

Marx also compared the labor process in class

societies with the potentialities of work under Communism.

Work would be freely undertaken rather

than dictated by demands of nature (essential

needs) or the logic of the market (profitability);

skills would be acquired as a chosen prowess rather

than tied to an assigned function in a rationalized

division of labor oriented to a stipulated output;

labor process labor process

321


and work groups would form voluntarily, based on

intrinsic pleasure and solidarity rather than an

external goal. Thus Marx argues in Volume I of

Capital (1867) that, while Communism cannot abolish

the need for humans’ interaction with nature,

it can bring that process under the community’s

conscious control and deprive it of its independent,

coercive force. BOB JESSOP

labor process approach

– see labor process.

labor theory of value

– see Karl Marx.

Lacan, Jacques (1901–1981)

An influential interpreter of Sigmund Freud,

Lacan had a major impact upon modern European

thought and social theory. A highly unconventional

psychoanalyst, he delivered a famed

seminar at the E´cole Normale Supe´rieure (formerly

attended by philosophers such as Michel

Foucault, Roland Barthes, and Jacques Derrida),

as well as founding his own psychoanalytic organization,

the E´cole Freudienne de Paris. In

addition to his work as a practicing psychoanalyst,

Lacan wrote many papers on a range of

theoretical issues.

He made two major contributions to the analysis

of human subjectivity: first, in “The Mirror

Stage as Formative of the Function of the I”, which

was published in E´crits. A Selection (1949 [trans.

1977]), he proposed the thesis of the self-deception

of the ego by considering the infant identifying

with a mirror image of a complete unified body.

Following closely Freud’s proposition that the ego

is fundamentally narcissistic in character, Lacan

focused on the notion of a “mirror stage” which,

he argued, provided the subject with relief from

the experience of fragmentation, by granting an

illusory sense of bodily unity through its reflecting

surface. Second, in “The Agency of the Letter

in the Unconscious, or Reason Since Freud” (1957),

published in E´crits, he argued, drawing upon

structural linguistics, that the construction of

the unconscious, and hence by implication culture

and society, is dominated by the primacy of

language. The signifier represents the subject for

Lacan; the primacy of the signifier in the constitution

of the subject indicates the rooting of the

unconscious in language. In Lacan’s infamous

slogan, “The unconscious is structured like a

language.”

Along with E´crits, his principal works included

The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis (1973

[trans. 1994]). ANTHONY EL L IOTT

language


There are at present about, 6,000 languages in the

world, 4,000 of which have been recorded or documented.

Present estimates suggest that 96 percent

of these languages are spoken by amere 4 percent of

the world’s population, and that half of them will

becomeextinct within the next century. Underlying

causes for these accelerating extinctions include

ecological collapse, military conflict, and political,

social, and economic hegemonic influence, whether

deliberately wielded or not.

Despite the obvious significance of language as a

basis of social identity and culture, the topic has not

received much attention from sociologists. Karl

Marx in the Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts

(1844 [trans. 1964]) observed that language was a

form of what he termed “practical consciousness.”

Fifty years later, E´mile Durkheim declared it to be

an exemplary instance of what he called “social

facts” and took an interest in its role in systems of

social classification. Subsequently, George Herbert

Mead identified language as the crucial means by

which persons can “take the role of the other” and

thereby become objects to themselves, an insight

which was foundational for symbolic interactionism.

Finally, the notion of habitus popularized by

Pierre Bourdieu serves as a valuable conceptualization

of the ingrained skills and practices associated

with language use and identity and their resistance

to change. These contributions notwithstanding,

the theoretical invocation of language within

sociology has tended to be holistic and underspecified,

and, perhaps because the sociologists of the

early twentieth century stressed the significance

of acculturation and assimilation, while the anthropologists

of the same period celebrated linguistic,

cultural, and ethnic diversity, interest in

language has comparatively shallow roots within

the discipline.

The sociological study of language has thus

remained somewhat sequestered from mainstream

sociology. In keeping with the perspective

sponsored by Durkheim, it focuses on the ways in

which language serves as a bridge between individual

identities and the social group(s) to which

persons belong. Its primary interests have cenetred,

at the macro-level, on the relationship between

language and identity in the context of race

and ethnicity and the nation-state, and, at the

middle-range level, on the ways in which social

labor process approach language

322

class, community, and gender function as causes



and consequences of sociolinguistic variation.

At the most macro-level are studies of language

shift and maintenance. A number of conditions

have been identified as creating the potential

for language shift. An essential precondition is

bilingualism. A monolingual society will remain

monolingual (though its language may evolve

over time), until the arrival of an additional language

that can influence the economic or power

balance among language users. Migration, industrialization,

urbanization, government sponsorship

of particular languages in schools and

elsewhere, and the relative prestige of different

languages are all factors that impact language

maintenance and shift. Perhaps the most important

factor promoting language maintenance is

linguistic nationalism, defined by Joshua Fishman,

for example, in the Handbook of Language and Ethnic

Identity (1999) as the values, attitudes, and behavior

of societies acting on behalf of their explicitly

stated ethnocultural self interest. Linguistic

nationalism involves political organization, language

policies that promote chosen vernacular

languages, and language codification (the creation,

where necessary, of a written form of the

language).

At the meso-level, sociolinguistics studies the

relationship between language use and a wide

variety of sociological variables. Emerging out

of the study of dialect variation, contemporary

sociolinguistics was born with William Labov’s The

Social Stratification of English in New York City (1967)

which used random sampling of informants, taperecorded

data, and quantitative measurements of

linguistic data to build a complex but orderly picture

of language use. Subsequent research has

shown the significance of geography, ethnicity,

social networks, class, gender, and age in language

variation. The reliability of linguistic markers of

group membership means that, for other individuals,

sociolinguistic variation can be a sensitive

measure of the person’s place in social space,

and for sociologists it can be a subtle unobtrusive

measure of a variety of social indicators.

In the end, sociolinguistics as a field is underwritten

by the fact that people speak the way they

do because the people they identify with also speak

that way. Practices of thinking, acting, and speaking

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