Welcome to the Organizations, Occupations and Work blog, established under the auspices of the OOW section of the American Sociological Association. We hope the blog will provide a lively home for sociologists studying organizations, occupations and work, who will (we hope) enjoy the scholarly exchanges we aim to provide. But we also hope to address a broader audience, confronting questions of broad public concern about workplace and occupational issues today. Yes, there will be some jargon. And yes, there will be discussion of cutting edge journal articles, of the state of the art in this or that field. But in addition, we hope to provide fresh and irreverent takes on a wide array of work-related issues and events that to appeal to a wide audience.
And surely, such commentary has never been more sorely needed. For nearly a generation now, our nation’s economic institutions have been undergoing structural changes of historic proportions. Some occupations are being uprooted entirely. New forms of work organization have emerged. Non-standard work arrangements have begun to become the norm. Globalization has relocated employment in whole industries. And unemployment has spread widely, reaching levels not seen in generations.
Given these and other changes on the horizon, we have decided to join a small but growing group of sociologists and scholars in organizational studies who want to raise the public profile of sociology by establishing a stronger and more interactive presence in social media. Please see our blogroll for a list, by no means exhaustive, of related endeavors.
We think that the sociology of organizations, occupations and work can play an especially important role in this respect. Both popular and policy discourse on work and organizations are dominated by the efficiency-based perspective of mainstream economics. The list of sociological critiques of mainstream economics is well known: assumptions of perfect rationality, perfect information and information processing capability, fair and equal exchange, and efficient markets tending toward equilibrium and stability.
All of these – assumptions for economists – are generally seen by sociologists as outcomes that vary across time and space. Sociologists focus analysis on how the social world, including the economy, is fundamentally constituted by social and political institutions, from cultural understandings, habits, ways of thinking and norms to formal organizations, rules and laws, to power relationships (class, race/ethnicity, gender, etc). And these days, we are convinced that work organizations are simply too important (and too embattled) to be left to the economists.
We hope this blog will serve as a venue for disseminating these types of ideas and analysis, a platform for sociologists to try to reach a broader audience, and for sociologists and other scholars to exchange ideas and debate. We hope you find it useful, and we encourage your input topics you would like to see discussed here. Do not hesitate to contact us via email. And follow us on Twitter if you’d like.
Steve, Matt and Chris.