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the company executives, who are mobile, disconnected

from their local communities and families,

and dedicated to personal achievement within the

organization. These organizational commitments

encouraged social conformity. In Habits of the

Heart (1985), Robert N. Bellah and his colleagues

undertook an influential study of contemporary

attitudes towards politics that was intended to

replicate Tocqueville’s study. They discovered

that Americans were alienated from politics and

political institutions, but their commitment to

society was expressed through a multitude of local

and informal associations.

In the 1950s sociologists created a theory of

social standardization and conformity that apparently

undermined the raw individualism of early

capitalism. Contemporary sociological studies

have drawn on the theory of postindustrial society

to argue that modern patterns of employment, for

example in the service sector, are fragmented, and

employment does not require loyalty to the company.

In the 1990s, work and employment have

become casualized, part-time, and discontinuous.

The alienated individual of mass society has been

replaced by a work force that has no sense of

identity with the company, and many people no

longer have an experience of a life-time career.

Richard Sennett, in Respect (2003), argues that

casualized workers have low self-esteem. The implication

of these studies is that the rugged individualism

of the American frontier is decaying.


individualization theory

Individualization concerns the conversion of identity

into a task to be achieved. Life is increasingly

lived as an individual project. The decline of class

loyalties and bonds (along with growing income

inequalities) means that individuals are increasingly

thrown back on their own biographies,

with human relations increasingly becoming susceptible

to individual choice. This does not mean

that the self is being increasingly determined by

market individualism or by social isolation. In Risk

Society (1992), Ulrich Beck argues individualization

means the disembedding of the ways of industrial

society and the reinvention of new communal ties

and biographies. As more areas of social life are

less defined by tradition, the more our biographies

require choice and planning. Individuals are “condemned”

to become authors of their own lives.

The partial disintegration of the nuclear family

and rigid class hierarchies means we are all

released from the structures of industrial society

into the uncertainties of a world risk society.

There are two main criticisms of these views. (1)

The individualized self is dependent upon access

to material and symbolic resources that are unevenly

distributed in modern industrial societies.

The argument here is that the individualized

self is a middle-class rather than a universal social

condition. (2) This view seriously underestimates

the extent to which ordinary lives and sensibilities

have been colonized by the imperatives of

economic reason. NICK STEVENSON


– see explanation.

industrial democracy

This phrase refers to worker participation in

management as both a historical and institutional

development within industrial relations.

The theory of industrial democracy summarizes

a range of participatory practices induced by

workers, trade unions, state legislature, or management.

Common organizational forms are

worker self-management, cooperatives, codetermination,

work councils, and shop-floor programs

(for example autonomous work groups). Participation

can be indirect (for example representation

through trade unions or work councils) or direct

(for example individual worker involvement in

teamwork schemes). Politically, the term symbolizes

ideological commitment to social rights and

economic or industrial citizenship as dimensions

of so-called organizational democracy. Towards

the end of the twentieth century, the European

Union developed a range of industrial democracy

initiatives, thus creating legislative support for

European employee rights.

Collective bargaining by trade unions (to determine

wages and conditions) is still the dominant

form of industrial democracy, but there has been

a decline in the strength, scope, and scale of union

action, as well as in the role of the state in industrial

relations. Changes in production technologies

and production organization as well as

changes to firm and market structures, in the

context of the ongoing globalization of the economy,

have also affected nationally instituted

structures and produced different sets of actor

choices and opportunities. Diverse organizational

forms and actor constellations now exist, in

which individual-employee participation represents

both more direct participation and leverage

individualization theory industrial democracy


for managers to bypass labor representatives and

collective agreements. Although the power balance

is generally understood as shifting in favor

of management, industrial democracy remains a

salient public issue.

Crucial to understanding contemporary industrial

democracy is the recognition that worker

participation is no longer confined to labor interests.

Worker involvement has been developed

as a programmatic component of management

theory and practice, and implemented through

so-called human resource management (HRM).

This form of management helps institute worker

participation through widespread practices of

worker consultation, without intending to advance

democracy. Compared with actual collaborative

decision-making and participation in

ownership and profit-sharing, this weaker form,

generally welcomed by employees and their representatives,

has also been analyzed as undermining

the more far-reaching, encompassing, or radical,

goals of trade unions and collective action by

labor movements more broadly.

Distinct national models of industrial democracy

exist. There are clear differences between

the Anglo-Saxon and German varieties of capitalism.

For example, in the United States and

the United Kingdom, economic competition from

Japan led to experiments with high levels of worker

participation (for example so-called quality

circles and total quality management) and, from

the 1980s, financial participation (for instance,

profit-sharing and stock-ownership extended to

employees). Germany’s system of industrial relations,

on the other hand, involves a dual system of

interest representation, with collective bargaining

between unions and employer representatives at

the industry level that is kept separate from codetermination

(Mitbestimmung) at the level of the

firm. Legal regulation supports industry-level bargaining,

determining the practices of negotiation

and arbitration without direct state intervention.

Work councils on the firm level are increasingly

taking over the role of the unions on the industrylevel

of negotiation, but the essential feature of

capital–labor co-determination remains.


industrial relations

These are concerned with the relationship between

employers and employees, with its regulation,

and with the social, legal, and economic

influences that shape it. The subject first received

systematic study in the late nineteenth and early

twentieth centuries, notably with the work of

Beatrice Webb (1858–1943) and Sidney Webb

(1859–1947) in the United Kingdom, and of John

Commons (1862–1945) in the United States. Their

interest was a response to the contemporary rise

of trade union power and to the industrial unrest

that increasingly disrupted the developed world.

An underlying concern of the subject was, and

remains, collective employee behavior and its

regulation. The employment relationship was

seen to be inherently conflictual because of the

open-ended nature of the employment contract,

and the imbalance of power between employer

and employee. This distinguishes the subject

from personnel management and human resource

management, for which the frame of reference is

the management of individualistic relationships

with employees.

For most of the twentieth century, and for most

industrialized market economies, the driving

force behind the regulation of terms and conditions

of employment was formal bargaining

between employers and the trade unions representing

their employees. This regulatory process,

called collective bargaining, gave rise to a

patchwork of industrial agreements within countries.

Trade unions were seen to play an often

controversial role in exacerbating inflation, in

encouraging or impeding industrial efficiency,

and in upholding decent labor standards. Governments,

to varying extents, and with varying

degrees of political support from trade unions,

legislated a procedural framework for collective

bargaining. This provided constraints to strike activity,

means (such as conciliation and arbitration)

for conflict resolution, and rights to trade union

organization. Towards the end of the twentieth

century, collective bargaining became eroded by

intensified national and international competitive

pressure for goods and services. As a result,

in most market economies, trade union membership

and strike action diminished, and concern

with industrial relations declined.

In the decades after World War II there was

substantial sociological interest in industrial relations.

Academic theorists sought to ground their

policy prescriptions in sociological analysis – for

example, John Dunlop drew on the work of Talcott

Parsons for his Industrial Relations Systems (1958)

and Allan Flanders’s influential analyses of the

breakdown of the British system used conceptions

of legitimation and anomie taken from Max

Weber and E´mile Durkheim. Ethnographic studies

such as Alvin Gouldner’s Patterns of Industrial Bureaucracy

(1955), Melville Dalton’s Men who Manage

(1959), and Michel Crozier’s The Bureaucratic

industrial relations industrial relations


Phenomenon (1964) inspired a generation of industrial

sociologists to explore informal processes

and power relationships in industrial relations.

Studies such as Alan Fox’s Beyond Contract: Work,

Power, and Trust Relations (1974) and Eric Batstone

and his colleagues’ Shop Stewards in Action (1977)

did much to shed light on the rational bases of

what was popularly conceived to be the irrational

exercise of union power. In the British context,

such studies played an important part in drawing

attention to the managerial weakness that lay

behind disorderly workplace industrial relations,

and thereby facilitated its elimination. The economic

pressures of subsequent decades have

tended to eclipse the pursuit of sociological

explanations of industrial relations behavior.


industrial society

Modern society is industrial society. When a society

undergoes industrialization, it tends to take

on the following features. It has an economy in

which power-driven machinery replaces human

and animal power, and steam, gas, or electricity

replaces wind and water as sources of power.

Handicraft production in the home or small workshop

gives way to mechanized production in the

factory. The majority of the adult population

work in manufacturing or services, rather than

agriculture. Work is based on a complex division

of labor, involving generally a considerable degree

of mechanization and automation and a strict

separation of manual and mental labor. Its organization

is based on Fordism (see Post-Fordism) and

Taylorism. The industrial way of life also tends to

involve a strict separation between home and

work, and between work and leisure. For Karl

Marx, such features of industrialism give rise to

a high degree of alienation.

The industrial population is urban, that is to say

that a majority live in towns of over 20,000 inhabitants,

and many in towns of over 1 million people.

Even rural dwellers are dependent on the city,

either for work or for most of the required services

and amenities.

Industrial life also tends to be secular, with

religion playing a diminished role in the life of

societies. As emphasized in the work of Max Weber,

industrial society is increasingly rationalized

and bureaucratized. For many nineteenth-century

sociologists, such as Ferdinand To¨nnies, such features

of industrial society lead to fragmentation

and a loss of community.

The first society to industrialize was that of

Britain in the early nineteenth century, as a result

of its "Industrial Revolution." Industrialism gradually

spread to the rest of western Europe and, by

the late nineteenth century, to America, Japan,

and eastern European countries such as Russia.

By the mid twentieth century, industrialism had

become worldwide, and commentators were beginning

to speak of a second industrial revolution

and the movement to a postindustrial society in

the developed world.

Industrial society has been, in the main, capitalist

society. That, for Marx, was its most important

feature, leading to the development of social

classes based on ownership or non-ownership of

the means of production, and involving more or

less permanent class conflict. Eventually, Marx

thought, such conflict would lead to socialism

and a more stable form of industrial society.

That has not happened yet in any advanced industrial

society, though a number of less developed

countries, such as Russia and China, have tried,

with considerable success, to industrialize under

the banner of socialism or Communism. Liberal

thinkers past and present, such as Herbert Spencer,

mile Durkheim, and Talcott Parsons, have

taken a more optimistic view of industrial society

and its future, arguing that the early conflicts and

discontents would give way to a more orderly

integration as social groups adjusted to each

other and a normative system governed by fairness

and justice gradually established itself in the

workplace and in the society at large. As industrial

society has globalized, largely under capitalist auspices,

the socialist dream has largely faded and

some form of liberal democracy has increasingly

become the norm. KRI SHAN KUMAR


– see industrial society.


The unequal distribution of opportunities,

rewards, and power among and between individuals,

households, and groups is a defining feature

of all known societies. The study of such differences,

or inequalities, is a core concern of much

sociological research. The subfield of social stratification

has as its main task the description and

analysis of inequalities, or the makeup of the

stratification system of any given society. Many

other subfields of sociology also examine particular

kinds of inequalities (for example, political

sociology examines inequalities in the distribution

of power, cultural sociologists study the unequal

distribution of cultural capital, and so

forth). Inequalities can be seen most clearly in

industrial society inequality


two distinct allocations – who gets what? (inequality

of outcomes) and who does what? (inequalities

of opportunities) – and across four distinct

social levels (individuals, groups, organizations

and institutions). The interaction between allocation

processes and the social levels at which they

occur defines the contours within which sociological

research on inequality proceeds. Sociologists

have also paid considerable attention to

the consequences of inequality, and the ways in

which inequalities are reproduced and transmitted

from generation to generation. Finally, it is

important to keep in mind that research on inequality

may concern either the distribution at

one point in time or dynamic or intergenerational


The most basic question about inequality concerns

the uneven distribution of rewards. Inequalities

of income and wealth are central, but these

are fundamentally different concepts. Income

refers to the receipt of money or goods over a

particular accounting period (such as hourly,

weekly, monthly, yearly, or over the life-course).

For most individuals and households, it is their

earned income that primarily defines their wellbeing

and capacity to acquire goods and service.

The choice of time period for studying income is

important. Take lifetime income flows: the young

generally receive little or no income; income typically

peaks in middle age, declining later in life.

But such generalizations cannot take into account

short-term shocks (unemployment, health problems,

macroeconomic conditions, the birth of a

child, good or bad luck) that may radically alter

income level at any particular point in time. The

use of averages over longer periods (such as yearly)

tends to obscure certain kinds of inequalities. For

this reason, analysts have typically considered

income insecurity an important supplement to

analyses of income inequality.

There are multiple possible sources of income:

earned income from a job, income received from

investments or ownership of income-generating

properties or business, income transfers from

the government, income received from family or

friends, and illegal or “underground” earnings

(such as from crime or informal services provided

outside a formal labor contract). The source of

income is a critical distinction. Individuals who

rely solely on paid employment or government

transfers have neither the security nor typically

the amount of income relative to those who receive

income from multiple sources. One may lose

a job or a government entitlement and be without

income altogether for some extended period of

time. For these reasons, analysts of inequality

must pay attention to the source of income as

well as the amount.

In studying income flows, sociologists have

highlighted the importance of occupations and/

or aggregations of occupations known as social

classes. Occupations vary widely in the level of

income they provide to their incumbents; professional

and managerial occupations provide far

greater incomes and employment security than

do routine “white-collar” jobs or skilled and unskilled

manual jobs. Occupations are powerful

predictors of income, intergenerational social mobility,

attitudes, voting behavior, and friendship/

marriage patterns.

Within a single “occupation” (however defined),

there is wide variation in the types of labor performed

and in the compensation provided. The

primary alternative analytical method is to examine

classes, broad groupings of occupations and/or

individuals with similar life chances. Research on

class-based inequalities has been a hallmark of the

sociological tradition since Karl Marx. Class analysis

provides a different way of examining the

impact of inequalities across a wide range of

social domains. A variety of different types of class

schema have been developed as analytical tools.

Among the most prominent of these in contemporary

sociology are the models of John Goldthorpe,

notably in The Class Structure in Modern Britain

(1980), and Erik Olin Wright, Classes (1985). The

Goldthorpe class scheme is built around an analysis

of employment relations (such as the degree of

trust associated with particular kinds of occupations),

while the Wright scheme focuses on the

differential distribution of assets possessed by different

classes (principally skill and organizational,

and property, assets).

A different perspective on class inequalities

emerges when analysts focus on wealth. Wealth

refers to the total stock of capital resources possessed

by an individual or family. The most

important types of wealth possessed by most

households are their homes, while a much smaller

subset of the population owns net financial assets

(NFAs) in addition to property. Home ownership is

the most widespread type of wealth ownership

in the developed capitalist world, and, since

homes tend to appreciate over time, home ownership

has been one way that modest households

accumulate wealth. (The difficulties in securing

legal title to property and the barriers to wealth

accumulation this posed has been identified as

one critical source of slow economic growth in

less-developed countries.) Significant net financial

inequality inequality


assets (the total value of savings, investments, and

other convertible assets, less outstanding debts),

in contrast, are far less widely held. Upper-class

families possess vast NFAs, while many families

possess little or no NFAs. Wealth is a critical

source of intergenerational inequality, something

which affluent parents can pass on to their children

to provide them with important starting

advantages. Wealth differences between individuals

and groups are often far larger than income

differences, and the sources of wealth inequality

has been an increasingly important topic of investigation

in recent years. Of particular note is the

role of wealth assets in cushioning families

against unanticipated crises such as sudden job

loss or health catastrophe.

Less commonly thought of in relation to inequality

of outcomes is status inequality. Inequality

on the basis of status refers not to the amount

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