Work, Organizations, and Society: Comparative Convergences

Work, Organizations, and Society: Comparative Convergences

Work, Organizations, and Society: Comparative Convergences

Work, Organizations, and Society: Comparative Convergences

Synopsis

"The focus here is on complex modern organizations as work environments. The major chapters were contributions by invited sociologists whose several themes include a theory of organizations that provides an alternative to the rational bureaucratic model, a theory of modernization based on energy consumption, and an empirical study of Japanese industries that challenges or supports theories about organizational complexity in terms of size or technology.... A long introductory chapter by the editor... proposes a comparative analysis of work in the modern world.... Graduate students involved in the study of complex organizations will undoubtedly find something stimulating here." - Choice

Excerpt

Merlin B. Brinkerhoff

We share much in common. As the popular saying goes, "We're family." We work. We have occupations. We're in organizations. We participate in society. As described in the companion to this volume, Family and Work: Comparative Convergences (Brinkerhoff, 1984), each of these spheres may be approached independently; however, in reality there is a great deal of inter-penetration among them. Because the chapters in the two volumes were part of the same integrated colloquium, there is some overlap in the introductory chapters of both books, which present the basic model underlying the remaining chapters.

We express considerable concern at the loss of a holistic view of social life as we have become increasingly more and more specialized; for example, there are specialists in family sociology or complex organizations, and even "subspecialists" in narrow areas like family power or organizational communication. At each succeedingly greater degree of specialization, there follows a greater loss of the holistic perspective. the many factors that operate to facilitate academic specialization include the very departmentalization which tends to be omnipresent in universities (Campbell, 1969), reward systems based on scholarly work that must be highly specialized to be accepted for publication, the knowledge explosion with its concomitant barriers that mitigate against coming to grips with the breadth of information, and so forth. the chapters included in this volume (and its companion) were selected in an attempt to avoid the pitfalls of overspecialization. We de-

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