The Sociology of Work: Structures and Inequalities

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Understanding the world of work is often difficult for students--particularly undergraduates--to grasp. The Sociology of Work: Structures and Inequalities answers the need for a clear, engaging--and affordable--introduction to the basic concepts used by sociologists of work. Throughout, the text links the most up-to-date research and scholarship on work and occupations with their underlying sociological principles. Beginning with a thorough discussion of these core concepts, it goes on to show the historical developments of labor processes, thus allowing students to draw modern, real-world connections. The book also examines the contemporary work scene (both domestic and global), its concurrent occupational structures, and, all too often, its resultant inequalities.

While remarkably accessible, The Sociology of Work does not shy away from challenging students with weightier sociological concepts, theories, and methodological issues, as well as less commonly discussed topics like Luddism, the role of gender in the industrial revolution, and the rise and decline of the workers' movement.

Comprehensive and versatile, The Sociology of Work: Structures and Inequalities is ideal for courses in the sociology of work and occupations, and the sociology of organizations and corporations, as well as labor studies and human resource management.


• Incorporates issues of gender and race throughout

• Also includes separate and unique chapters on gender (Chapter 11), diversity (Chapter 12), immigration (Chapter 13), and globalization (Chapter 16)

• Emphasizes the continuing importance of social theory, both classical and contemporary

• Devotes an entire chapter to research methods and data sources

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"The Sociology of Work is an outstanding alternative to standard textbook fare. The book focuses on several core concepts that distinguish the sociological study of work from other ways of studying social life. It incorporates the latest research in an accessible way without talking down to students. The emphasis on the historical development of work is ideal for my course, and the writing style is much more engaging than [the] standard text. . . . The authors' writing style is a major strength of the book. They have clearly gone out of their way to communicate complex material in a straightforward and engaging manner." --Kevin Leicht, University of Iowa

"The book provides a more in-depth treatment of relevant empirical research, has better historical coverage, and has a more engaging writing style [than the competition]."--Michael Miller, University of Texas, San Antonio

"This extraordinary textbook appeals through its comprehensible and engaging style of writing without losing sight of being scientifically well founded... Its unique focus on work-related inequalities... offers new and interesting insights. Given the current debates about precarious work and gender equality this book is an important and up to date contribution which is definitely worth reading." --Work, Employment & Society

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195381726
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/15/2009
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 226,617
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Steven Vallas is Professor and Chair of Sociology and Anthropology at Northeastern University.

William Finlay is Professor and Department Head of Sociology at the University of Georgia.

Amy Wharton is Professor of Sociology at Washington State University and editor of the journal, Social Problems.

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Table of Contents

1. The Sociology of Work: An Invitation
The Primacy-of-Production Thesis
The Sociology of Work: Core Principles
2. Theoretical Traditions in the Sociology of Work
Classical Perspectives on Work and Society
Contemporary Perspectives on Work and Society
Perspectives on Work: Present Realities and Future Perspectives
3. Studying Workers and Work: Research Methods in the Field
Methods for Studying Work and Workers
Official Statistics
Surveys and Interviews
Summary and Conclusion
4. The Industrial Revolution and Beyond: Culture, Work, and Social Change
Understanding the Industrial Revolution
The Meaning of Work in Preindustrial Societies
The Rise of the Factory System
Gender, Family, and the Factory System: The Rise of the Male Breadwinner Norm
5. The Second Industrial Revolution: Mass Production and Labor Management
The Rise of Mass Production
How Workers Responded to Mass Production
The Invention of Personnel Management
The Hawthorne Research: The Discovery of the Work Group
6. Blue-Collar Workers and the Hidden World of Work
The Skills of Blue-Collar Workers
How Work Gets Done: Informal Work Practices
Good Citizenship in the Workplace
7. Managers: Careers at Work
The Managerial Occupation
What Do Managers Do?
Managers' Careers
Gender and Racial Differences in Access to Power and Authority
The Future of Management
8. The Professions: Power and Status in the Workplace
Characteristics of the Professions
Controlling Professional Work: The Professional Ethic
Professional Careers
9. Service Jobs: Close Encounters with Customers
Defining Service
Service Industries and Service Occupations
Characteristics of Service Jobs
Control, Routinization, and Technology in Service Work
Doing Deference: Personal Service Work
Conclusion: Beyond the Service Economy
10. Unions in America: The Struggles of the Labor Movement
The Glory Years of Industrial Unionism: 1933-1945
The Decline of Unions After World War II
The Costs of Union Decline
The Future of Unions
11. Gender and Work
The Rise in Women's Labor Force Participation
The Sex Segregation of Jobs and Occupations
Maintaining Barriers Between "Women's" and "Men's" Jobs
The Gender Pay Gap and the Worth of Jobs
The Future of Gender Inequality at Work
12. Managing Diversity: Racial and Ethnic Divisions at Work
Race, Ethnicity, and the Sociology of Work
Government Efforts to Uproot Racial and Ethnic Disparities
13. Immigrant Workers: Marginal Work, Networks, and Entrepreneurship
Migration of the Poor: Mexicans, Central Americans, and Filipinos
Immigrant Hiring: Networks and Gateways
Immigrants and Entrepreneurship
14. Work and Family
The Rise of Domesticity
Work Time, Family Time, and Work-Family Conflict
Cross-National Differences in Work and Family
The Growth of Nonstandard Employment Contracts and the "24/7" Economy
15. The New American Workplace
Trends in Occupational Growth: Some Evidence
The Changing Employment Relationship
The Participatory Management Movement
16. Globalization and the American Workplace
Dimensions of Globalization
The Meaning of Globalization for the American Worker
Conclusions: Shaping Globalization

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