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

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

order received. He serves them, he does not make them serve him. They are not for him a means of turning a piece of metal to a specified form; he is for them a means whereby they will be fed the parts for an operation whose relationship to the ones preceding and the ones following remains an impenetrable mystery to him.

The parts have their history; they have passed from one stage of development to another. But he counts for nothing in that history, he has not left his mark upon it, he knows nothing of what has gone on. Were he to manifest any curiosity, it would be speedily discouraged; in any case, the same muffled and permanent dread that inhibits his thought from traveling through time also keeps it from wandering through the plant and fixes it to a point in space. The workingman does not know what he produces and consequently, he experiences the sensation, not of having produced, but of having been drained dry. In the plant he expends--occasionally to the uttermost--what is best in him, his capacity to think, feel, be moved. He squanders it all, since he leaves the plant emptied; and yet he has put nothing of himself in his work, neither thought, feelings, nor even, save in a feeble measure, movements determined by him, ordered to some end. His very life slowly ebbs from him without having left a trace behind him. The factory may create useful objects, but they are not for him; and the pay that, sheep-like, he stands in line for every fortnight, that pay impossible to calculate beforehand in the case of piecework owing to the arbitrary, complicated accounting procedures that it involves, comes to seem more a charitable handout than the price of his hire. The workingman, though indispensable in the productive process, is accounted as practically nothing in it, which is why each physical annoyance needlessly imposed, each show of lack of respect, each brutality, each humiliation, however trivial, appears as a fresh reminder of his alien status.


3. BUREAUCRATIC STRUCTURE AND PERSONALITY

· Robert K. Merton

The bureaucratic structure exerts a constant pressure upon the official to be "methodical, prudent, disciplined." If the bureaucracy is to operate successfully, it must attain a high degree of reliability of behavior, an unusual degree of conformity with prescribed patterns of action. Hence, the fundamental importance of discipline, which may be as highly developed in a religious or economic bureaucracy as in the army. Discipline can be effective only if the ideal patterns are buttressed by strong sentiments which entail devotion to one's duties, a keen sense of the limitation of one's authority and competence, and methodical performance of routine activities. The efficacy of social structure depends ultimately upon infusing group participants with appropriate attitudes and sentiments. As

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