The Labor Leader: An Exploratory Study

The Labor Leader: An Exploratory Study

The Labor Leader: An Exploratory Study

The Labor Leader: An Exploratory Study

Excerpt

Every field of expression--art, science, scholarship--develops a set of principles of how work should be carried on in its domain. Frequently these principles are codified. Such codes have many uses. They facilitate selection among competing values, approaches, techniques. By approving some they implicitly disown others. Thus instruction is simplified and criticism secures a scientific base. The strength of a code lies in its appeal. It can survive only as long as it can command majority support. Just as in politics, the voting is not always completely free.

Codes are useful, in fact necessary; but they also have their drawbacks. If a young man works in the same media as his teacher he can be judged by the code, for the conventional standards can probably be used to assess his work. But what if he sees a new problem or has faith that a new approach applied to an old problem can yield significant results? He will transgress the code, but he may still be right.

The social sciences are young, but they are old enough to have developed codes. This is cause both for elation and regret; elation because codes are possible only when order has been brought out of chaos; regret because order can be crippling as well as constructive. The systematic knowledge and tested techniques of the social sciences enable them to make a real contribution to the solution of many problems. But there are many others to which they remain blind. Although the code cannot alone be held responsible for these failures, it also cannot be absolved from responsibility. The code intimidates: by establishing standards of workmanship it places beyond the pale problems that cannot be treated with conventional tools. Instead of the problems' setting the pace, the most important having first priority, the process is reversed and work is scheduled in terms of its adaptability to conventional treatment.

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