Review of Sociology: Analysis of a Decade

By Joseph B. Gittler | Go to book overview

Chapter 10
Industrial sociology

WILLIAM FOOTE WHYTE

Cornell University

FRANK B. MILLER

Cornell University


HISTORICAL INTRODUCTION

Industrial sociology as a field of scientific inquiry is little more than twenty years old. The selection of any date for its beginning would be arbitrary, but we may take the twelfth period in the Western Electric test room experiment as a convenient starting point (59).

The research team, led by Harvard's Elton Mayo and F. J. Roethlisberger and Western Electric's W. J. Dickson, had been studying the effects of certain changes in conditions of work upon productivity. When experimental variation of lighting showed no clear effects upon output, the researchers turned to the introduction of rest periods and refreshments and changes in the length of the working day.

For the test room experiment, six girls were isolated from the rest of the plant in a special observation room. While their production was

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