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Industry and Society

Industry and Society: Sociology 338
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Industry and Society: Sociology 338


Please check out my website:

Dr. Linda Markowitz
Office Hours: M and W: 1:30-2:45
And by Appt.
Office:  Peck Bldg.  rm. 1220
Office number:  650-2451

Course Objectives:                           
Work is fundamental to any society.  The way work is organized, however, changes over time and across cultures.  In this class, we will explore the social construction of work in the United States.   How has work been organized historically?  How is work organized now?  How does the organization of work affect our families, our happiness, society as a whole?   We will see that the organization of work in the United State is deeply influenced and influences other social systems, such as the U.S. government, families and other countries.

Thus, the first objective of class is to understand how something as basic as work is socially constructed.  Why do people organize work the way they do and who does this organization benefit?

We will pay special emphasis to paid work.  If you are not a paid worker now, chances are that you will be very soon.  Today, the world of paid work is rapidly changing.  New work organizations are emerging which emphasize participation.  We will ask ourselves why these new participatory work places are emerging and try to understand their relationship to a global economy.  Are workers benefitting from these workplaces?  Why or why not?  Thus, the second objective of class is to analyze the changing workplace and its affect on workers.  Since the organization of work is not inevitable but  constructed by people, workers have a stake in the emerging workplace.  How can workers help define the workplace?

Statement of Professionalism
Students are required to take responsibility for their education.  If you miss class, fail to do an assignment or misunderstand an assignment, please determine for yourself how to complete the work.  This means read the syllabus before you ask me any questions; get notes from a classmate and manage your time to ensure you understand and complete all assignments adequately.   

My role as professor is to help you evaluate and critically examine information and logic. To complete my job, students must come prepared for class.  Preparation entails taking effort to read and think about the material outside of class.   My role is not to ensure your workload does not impinge on other obligations or activities.

Plagiarism — If you plagiarize on any of the papers, you will receive no points for the assignment in question.  Furthermore, I may pursue further action depending on the egregiousness of the case.  If you have any questions about plagiarism, please look at my website.  If you still do not understand, ask me.  I don’t mind entertaining any questions!

Reading materials:
1) Text:  The Social Organization of Work by Randy Hodson and Teresa Sullivan.  Fourth Edition  (Textbook Rental)
2) Reader: Transformation of Work in the New Economy by Perrucci and Perrucci
3) Blackboard readings


Course Requirements:
1) Tests and Quizzes --

A) TESTS: There will be two tests which will consist of multiple choice (mc), short essay (se) and long essay (le).    The two tests will be worth 21% each (42 % total).

Failure to take tests ---  Any one who does not contact me in person or by phone (thus leaving a message for me in the department will not do) about missing the test before theday of the scheduled test will not be able to do a make-up, and will receive a 0 for the grade.   THERE WILL BE NO MAKE-UP FOR THE LAST TEST.

B) Quizzes:   Whenever there is a Perrucci and Perrucci or Blackboard reading assigned, you will have a 10 question multiple choice quiz.  You can drop your lowest score.  The quizzes will be the first 10 minutes of class.  They will promptly begin and promptly end.  Thus, if you are late, you will miss the quiz.  Quizzes cannot be made up.  There will be a total of four quizzes that will count toward our final grade.  Each quiz is worth 4 points each (total 16%)

2) Homework-  Please, feel free to turn in drafts of your paper prior to submitting it for a grade.  The learning process is greatly aided with feedback! However, in order to ensure I have time to read the draft, you must submit it to me at least 48 hours BEFORE the paper is due.  

A) Long Paper Assignments:  There will be two individual paper assignments.   Each paper is worth 10% of your grade (a total of 20%).  The directions for the paper and their due date appear at the end of the syllabus.  Note that you must email the papers to me:

B) Short Homework Assignment:  There will also be two short written- assignments to be discussed in-house that require a minimum of two pages of writing before class day.   These assignments will require some work outside class so that you can talk in your groups about your findings and present them to the class.    Each assignment is worth 5% of your grade (10% total).                     

A description of the content in the papers appears on the day they are due (see reading and assignment schedule below).  Please note that if your paper is shorter than two full pages, you will be deducted a commensurate number of points on your paper.

If you are absent for one short homework assignment, add another page to the assignment and deduct 10 points from your grade.   If you are absent for two in-house assignments, add two pages to the assignment and deduct 20 points from grade. 

C) Application Day:   I understand that people have busy schedules.  HOWEVER, in general,  I do expect that students will complete the readings assigned.   Readings are particularly important when we do APPLICATION DAY. On those four days, we will have discussions that require your full participation.   I will hand out sheets on the day we have discussion that the groups will work on together.  One person from the group will type up the group’s answers and hand them into the class.  If you wish to type up your own responses, rather than have your grade rest upon the group’s, you may do so.  (Four Application days at 3% each, with a total of 12 percent).

If you are absent on Application Day, you will receive a 0 for the assignment.  You cannot make the grade up.

3) Professionalism Grade – I will be evaluating students on their level of professionalism in the classroom.   The criteria appear at the following address:


Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty, which includes plagiarism, copying, or helping others cheat will be treated with the standard penalty, an F for the course.


January 20th —            Application Day
February 3rd                 Quiz 1
February 10th               Quiz 2
February 17th               Application Day
March 1st                       Long Paper 1 Due
March 3rd                    Test 1
March 15th                   Quiz 3
March  22nd                  Short Paper Assignment Due
March 24th                   Quiz 4
March  24th                Application Day
April 12th                      Quiz 5
April 14th                      Longish Paper 2 Due
April 21st                      Short Paper Assignment Due
April 28th                     Application Day
May 6th                        Final:  10-11:40


Reading and Assignment Schedule                                                                         
January 11                   Syllabus

Introduction to the Sociology of Work: 
January 13                   Why is sociology important? What is work?
January 18                   MLK DAY  No Classes


January 20th               APPLICATION DAY: Global Warming.  How is this a sociological issue?

                                    Evolution  of Work                
January 25                   Chapter 1

                                    Studying the World of Work
January 27                   Chapter 2

Work and Family:  Separate Spheres?
February 1                   Chapter 5
February 3                   BLACKBOARD: Feeding the Family and The Second Shift;      Discussion of first paper.
                                    QUIZ 1
February 8                   Continuation..............................

                                    Stratification and Capitalist societies
February 10                 BLACKBOARD: Article on Schooling and Capitalist America
                                    QUIZ 2
February 15:                Continuation
February 17:                Continuation and APPLICATION DAY: How do we look at the world through the eyes of supply-side economists?

February 22 and 24th              
                                    Movie: Sicko

Work as Emotional Fulfillment?
  March 1                      Chapter 3    LONG PAPER ONE DUE

March  3                      TEST ONE!


The Problematic Nature of Work in the U.S.
March  15                    Chapter 4 and  BLACKBOARD: Tokenism by Kanter
                                    QUIZ 3

March  17th                 Chapter 4

March  22nd                Short-Written assignment:  IN-CLASS Discussion:   Bring in a  two-page typed page describing three of the following concepts that exist in your workplace:   Tokenism, sexual harassment, networking, statistical discrimination, gender-race typing of jobs,   gender/race discrimination, homosocial reproduction, job sex/race segregation, etc..  First, define each concept you are applying without plagiarizing. Next, after you write the definition of the concept, give evidence that it exists in your workplace.  Use more than just one incident when relevant.  This paper should be written in an essay format

The Great Technology Debate
March  24th                 Chapter 9   and Articles 12 and 13 in Perrucci and Perrucci book
AND APPLICATION DAY: What’s going on with paid workers in this country?

                                    Labor History and Unions
March  29th                Chapter 6
March 31st                   Chapter 6


Participation and Technology: Determinism or Socially constructed?
April    5                      Chapter 7
April 7th                       Chapter7           

Marginal Workers
April 12                       Chapter 14 &
                                    BLACKBOARD: No Logo Naomi Klein
                                    Quiz 5

April14th                      VIDEO: NO LOGO and   
                                    LONG PAPER 2 DUE


Global Work
April 19th                     Chapter 16      
April 21                       Chapter 16
Short-Written Assignment: Relational Economics:.  Choose one of the following goods: coffee, chocolate, flowers or diamonds.  Read articles that discuss how workers in those industries are affected.  Who are the workers?  What are their working conditions? How does production of those goods affect the environment? Family? Equality?  What is the relationship between U.S. consumption of those goods and what you wrote above? Now, write a paper in essay form that just does not simply answer the questions, but has the information flow logically.

Consuming and Consumerism
April 26th:                     Socially Responsible Consumerism?
April 28th                     Affluenza, the movie 
Application Day: Culture/Structure and over-consumption in the US.

May 6th                       FINAL   10-11:40

All papers must be EMAILED to me:  No hard copies will be accepted.  Ten points will be deducted each class period in which your paper is late.

PAPERS MUST BE AT LEAST 1000 words long (excluding name and title, etc).


Homework Description:

In each of the following assignments you must sociologically analyze.

What is sociological analysis?---   Sociological analysis is applying sociological concepts to interpret data that one has gathered through evidence.

Assignment 1: Importance of Nonpaid Work to Our Everyday Survival

 Interview a worker who has primary responsibility for the work at home for a family (including children and/or partner with children).  This person can have a paid job as well as a non-paid job.  However, you cannot choose someone who shares responsibility equally in the home, only someone who has primary responsibility of the home.  What type of work is involved to complete the caretaking of the home?                     

To do this assignment you must unpack people’s perception of gender.  Thus, the first thing to uncover is:

1) What does gender ideology and  gender identity (read articles assigned for chapter 5) have to do with the gender strategies in the house.  “What roles do you think a woman/man should take in the house.”  “What do you think it means to be a mother?”

2) What is the person’s family background (the gender strategies in their childhood home) and how did that contribute to present division of labor.  “What did your mother do in the household when you were a child.”  “How did you feel about that?”  “What about your father.”  “How did you feel about that?”

3)  What is the division of labor in the house in current household.  Why?   “Who is responsible for cooking (or cleaning or bathing kids or ..........)” “What made you decide to divide tasks that way?”

If the person is a single parent, why did this person take over responsibility of kids and how was that affected by gender?
Does the person have a work/love dichotomy?  If so, explain the significance of such a dichotomy theoretically.  In other words, how does this dichotomy devalue non-paid work?   “Do you feel like the work you do in the home is work?  Tell me more”

Does the person engage in “invisible work?”  Explain how.  “When do you plan for the meals and shopping.”   “Does anyone notice how much work you do?”  “How do you feel about that?”
Is there a leisure gap between mother and father?  WHY?
What’s person race, gender and class (defined by education and income).
Is this person affected by the public/private split?  How so?  “Do you experience conflict while your at paid work?  Explain.”
Is there a family myth.  If so what is it.  
Is there a devaluation of home labor?  How?

Remember, the person you are interviewing has probably never heard of these concepts, so instead of asking, “What is your gender identity.” Ask, “What does it mean for you to be a mother?”  Instead of asking, “What is your gender ideology?”  Ask, “In your opinion, what’s a woman’s role in the household.”


When you write the assignment up, make sure you write it in essay form rather than a question/answer format.  If you write the paper in question-answer format, your grade will suffer dramatically.  Further, ONLY DISCUSS CONCEPTS THAT ARE APPROPRIATE TO YOUR INTERVIEWEE.  DO NOT STICK CONCEPTS IN THAT ARE IRRELEVANT AND SAY, “this person has no family myth.”

ALSO, YOUR JOB IS NOT TO MERELY DESCRIBE WHAT THE PERSON DOES, BUT ANALYZE WHY THE PERSON DOES IT USING SOCIOLOGICAL CONCEPTS.   Thus, if a couple decided the woman should stay home from paid work, how did they come to this decision and why.  Ask yourself, does the couple have any family myths?  What is their gender ideology?  Gender strategy?


Assignment 2: Making Your Workplace More Participatory

1) In this paper, pretend that your organization has just received a new boss or CEO.  The boss has called you into her office and tells you of her plan to make the workplace more participatory.  She asks you to come up with concrete suggestions on how to do this.  You must now write a report about how to make the workplace more participatory.  In order to do so, you must first analyze the place that you are presently working.   If you are not presently working, then choose a previously place of work.  Think about the following questions.  Answer the ones that are applicable to your workplace (except include all bold sections):

a) First, describe the business.  What does it produce or sell?  How large is the organization?  Is it a small business, an oligopoly?
b)  Is your workplace controlled by scientific management, human resource management or participatory management.  Explain and give evidence.
c) Use the four organizational characteristics: centralization, standardization, role specialization and autonomy to describe your workplace.  Make at least one paragraph for each characteristic and provide evidence!

d) How could your workplace be organized differently to solicit participation by the workforce.  How would the four organizational characteristics have to change.  Remember, under centralization, include open information, open communication and shared decision-making.  Would power, technology and skill have to be changed to allow  workers more voice?  (Do not say that your workplace could NOT be made more participatory).  REMEMBER, YOU ARE NOT WRITING ABOUT HOW TO IMPROVE THE WORKPLACE.  RATHER, YOUR FOCUS IS HOW TO MAKE IT MORE PARTICIPATORY.  THUS, ANY CHANGE YOU SUGGEST SHOULD INCREASE PARTICIPATION AND YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO EXPLAIN HOW IT DOES.

Remember to explain in detail how the changes would be implemented at your workplace!  (In other words, don’t just say “we need more communication between workers and managers.”  Rather explain how to institute more communication).  Also, remember to write about HOW shared decision-making would look.  Only write what decisions should be made as they relate to how the process should look.