The purpose of the present volume is that of an introductory survey of a number of social problems of industry. Although many excellent texts on labor problems are now available, many of these books treat somewhat in detail a rather restricted number of topics. Again, labor problems are frequently approached from the aspect of industrial management rather than from a broad social and economic point of view.
"Social Aspects of Industry" begins with introductory chapters on the environmental background of labor problems, as found in our present complex industrial organization and in our legal and political institutions, a short survey of which is then supplemented by a brief discussion of immigration and our labor supply.
A fundamental problem of industry is that of income and standards of living. Consequently, Part II of this book treats of our increased national prosperity, labor's share thereof, and the persistent problems of economic inequality and poverty.
Our approach toward the social problems of industry is a threefold one, that of the state through legislation, that of organized labor through collective bargaining, and, finally, that of the liberal employer. Part III treats of various industrial maladjustments and the problems of human conservation, stressing the role of the state through legislation. Part IV is concerned with the problem of organized labor, the approach of collective bargaining, and the various devices for securing increased wages and shorter hours. In Part V is discussed the approach of the employer, as represented by employee representation and profit sharing.
Part VI discusses comprehensive programs of economic reconstruction such as the cooperative movement, socialism, and syndicalism. In conclusion, a brief discussion of economic and social progress is essayed.
A study of the social problems of industry lies within the twilight zones between economics and sociology, and between economics and political science. All industrial problems have their social consequences, and they also involve governmental action for their solution. Although realizing the composite nature of labor problems, the author has attempted to treat them as a part of applied economics. Indeed, the present volume grew out of a text on general economic problems.
Because of the rather general nature of this text, most labor problems are discussed briefly. Indeed, many important phases of management are omitted entirely. It is obvious that technical problems and specialized fields cannot be treated adequately in such a brief and general survey.