Sociology in the Workplace
1. Identify and explain the four (4) ways in which marginal jobs deviate from the norms expected of work. Then explain which members of the labor force have the highest likelihood of working in marginal job and why. According to the text, norms that are expected out of work are: (1) the job content should be legal; (2) the job should be institutionally regular; (3) the job should be relatively stable; (4) the job should provide adequate pay with sufficient hours of work every week to make a living (Hodson, & Sullivan, 2007, p. 327). Marginal jobs are those that diverge from one or more of these expected work norms.
This may be subjective because two people might disagree on whether or not wages earned for a job are adequate. Marginal jobs appear to be more common in highly competitive industries. Employers may implore various different tactics to offset competition. An organization may create low-wage, unstable jobs and laying-off workers due to economic difficulties. This is beneficial in conserving capital or shifting the company’s product lines or goals but comes at a cost of employee morale. In an extreme case, employers may decide to shift jobs to another region or country where lower wages are acceptable.
This could also be intensified by giving marginal jobs to those with disabilities, limited language skills, lack of education, or do not possess sufficient credentials to work according to laws and regulations. 2. Contrast Skill Upgrading, Deskilling and the Mixed Effects positions and answer the question: Identify which of these theories best explains how technology has impacted the professions. Identify which of these theories best explains how technology has impacted workers in marginal jobs. Provide evidence to support your arguments.
The skill-upgrading thesis is the argument that continuing improvements in technology advances the skills and qualification of workers because of the constant requirement for retraining and reeducation. A job is deskilled when the technology improvements in a certain profession has led to the reduction of an individual’s work to one, or a few specific tasks. Deskilling a job has direct correlation to the amount of scientific management put into the labor process. The mixed-effects position is a combination of the two. As technology has increased, some skills in the workforce have increased while other diminished.
Skills tend to change as technologies evolve. Technology advances has been most dramatic in clerical and service work, which has led to the deskilling of labor. The basic job of this service work is to handle, maintain and process information. Improvements such as the computer, voice recognition software and automation processes have led to the deskilling of this service work. As a result of this technology people are now facing the threat of losing their job because a process has been changed, upgraded or eliminated. 3. Compare and contrast the role of employer, customer and worker in service interactions.
Explain how the worker may manipulate the service interaction. Define emotional work and explain when and why “losing it” and “burnout” may occur. Service interaction is the interfacing and communication between the service provider and service recipient. It may come in various forms such as in person, over the telephone or indirectly through mail or email. Whatever form it takes, the service provider and recipient must be able to meet their standards for a successful interaction (Hodson, & Sullivan, 2007, p. 233). The successful interaction standards are different between the employer, customer and worker.
For the employer, this standard is usually quantitative in nature. Criteria such as how many customers and how well were they served, did they spend as much money as anticipated. Customer’s standards are more often emotional, were they treated courteously, fairly and efficiently. Worker criteria for successful interaction are usually dependent on the situation; are they treated well by their employer or customer, are they receiving adequate compensation for work provided. Workers can manipulate a service interaction to promote their product or service, to advance in their career, as well as make the recipient happy.
For example, airline stewardesses are trained in providing friendly and courteous service to ‘ensure’ a pleasant flight experience. This process of managing an emotional response in their actions with customers is called emotional work (Hodson, & Sullivan, 2007, p. 235). “Losing it” applies to a worker who fails to maintain the expected interaction with a customer because he/she is rude or offensive. “Burnout” is due to the chronic stress in a service job, usually resulting from frequent and repetitive interactions.
This is a result of long-term difficult job situations that may be due to overworking or inability to perform the job satisfactorily. 4. Identify and explain the four (4) hallmarks of a profession. Compare the hallmark approach with the Conflict Approach on the issue of whether the professions constitute a meritocracy. The four hallmarks of a profession are: (1) abstract, specialized knowledge; (2) autonomy; (3) authority over clients and subordinate occupational groups; (4) and a certain degree of altruism (Hodson, & Sullivan, 2007, p. 58). There are two types of knowledge within a society; common knowledge (generally known by many) and esoteric knowledge (known only by a few). Professionals hone their skills on this esoteric knowledge thereby separating them from workers. Autonomy is a key function for professionals where their own judgment or technique is utilized to solve a problem; they are dependent on anyone else for solutions. Authority over others is the expectation that subordinates will heed to the professional’s wishes and requirements.
Altruism means a general concern for others and advocacy of community service. The conflict approach view is that the four hallmarks of a profession are more of a result of professional power then its cause. It pays more attention to differential distribution of power within the professions. Professionals are those with the greatest control over sources of knowledge; possess the most important specialized knowledge, and those with the greatest organizational or personal resources to maximize their authority and autonomy over others. 5.
Do multinational corporations benefit developing nations? If so, how? Provide examples. Then identify and describe three (3) concerns sociologists should raise regarding the power Multinational Corporations (MNCs) hold in the world. Multinational corporations have been associated to the world’s environmental and economic problems due to their increase of goods and services being mass produced and marketed depriving local production. Sociologists are concerned with the concentration of economic power in the hands of the leaders of a few global corporations.
Two hundred of the largest global corporations control over 80 percent of assets of the western world. This raises the concern that these corporations have the ability to make decisions independently of the nations in which they operate. Another concern is that while sometimes MNC’s benefit less industrialized nations by transferring technology and expertise to them. These are usually outdated and fail to significantly improve the employment or economic growth of the host nation. Hodson, R, & Sullivan, T. A. (2007). The social organization of work. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Pub Co.