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The Sociology of Work

Structures and Inequalities

Steven P. Vallas, William Finlay, and Amy S. Wharton

Publication Date - 15 January 2009

ISBN: 9780195381726

384 pages
7 1/2 X 9 1/4 inches

In Stock

This unique text answers the need for a clear, engaging--and affordable--introduction to the basic concepts used by sociologists of work.


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

About the Author(s)

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.


"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

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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