The Sociology of Economic Life

The Sociology of Economic Life

The Sociology of Economic Life

The Sociology of Economic Life

Excerpt

To understand and predict any aspect of social life, we cannot ignore economic matters. Take political conflict as an example. A mining town in West Virginia is likely to face recurrent political battles over working conditions, consumer debt, and public welfare. The citizens of a suburban town outside Philadelphia are likely to be preoccupied with school issues, transportation to the metropolis, and tax rates. In a Florida tourist town political conflicts may focus on liquor-licensing, building permits, and the state of recreational facilities. In all three cases distinctive types of political conflict may be traced in part to distinctive economic differences.

Take friendship as another example. For any given industrial plant it is possible to predict many of a man's friendship choices fairly accurately by knowing where he stands in the economic division of labor. We frequently refer to "managerial cliques" and "workmen's cliques" to indicate that friendships form among those occupying similar positions in productive organizations.

In turn the non-economic aspects of social life affect the economic. By knowing the political conditions of different societies, for instance, it is possible to predict some of the economic activities that will occur in them. American investors traditionally have chosen to invest abroad either in politically stable areas (such as Canada or parts of Europe) or in areas over which the United States exercises strong political influence (such as Latin . . .

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