Man, Work, and Society: A Reader in the Sociology of Occupations

By Sigmund Nosow; William H. Form | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE DEVELOPMENT OF OCCUPATIONAL SOCIOLOGY

Occupational sociology has become a new and vital subdiscipline within sociology. The field, which may be defined simply as the application of sociological principles to the realm of work and occupational life, appears to be organized around five major substantive themes.

The first theme deals with the social nature of work and related phenomena such as leisure, play, recreation, retirement, and unemployment. The second is concerned with the analysis of occupational structure, changes within it, and causes of these changes. A third major theme, the study of individual occupations, commonly deals with the institutional complex of the occupations--rocruitment and training, the adjustment problems faced at various stages of the career, the interpersonal relationships at work, and related phenomena. The fourth is the analysis of how the occupational structure and individual occupations articulate with other segments of society. This includes the relationships between occupations and systems of social stratification as well as relationships between styles of life and occupations. Finally, a fifth theme is the study of a particular occupation to highlight an important problem in the broader society. For example, we may study the newspaper reporter to see what is happening in mass communication, and the presidency to gain insight into the operation of political structure.

Although occupational sociology has a long and honorable history, only recently has it developed into a separate field in graduate and undergraduate curricula. Sometimes the field is considered a part of a larger academic area such as industrial sociology; yet occupational sociology has all of the requisites of an independent subfield. It has a large and rich body of empirical studies reflecting a century of accumulation; and compared to many fields, it has developed an elegant theoretical framework. For reasons not altogether clear, the field should have achieved institu

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