orientations to work

orientations to work

the attitudes and motivation, and the overall subjective experience of work, associated with particular occupations or groups. A significant strand of sociological work in this area has been concerned with elaborating and developing the work of MARX on the ALIENATION of the worker produced within and by the capitalist LABOUR PROCESS. SCIENTIFIC MANAGEMENT (see also BRAVERMAN THESIS) was one early managerial strategy which, while aiming to maximize worker's efficiency, tended to increase levels of alienation. Robert Blauner (1964) subsequently argued that technological developments would tend eventually to enhance rather than erode the degree of control which workers could experience over their work, and so reduce the degree of alienation which they experienced (see ALIENATION). Later sociological research has questioned this hypothesis (see NEW WORKING CLASS).

In contrast to the tradition of scientific management, the HUMAN RELATIONS SCHOOL recognized the need of employees for social anchorage and recognition, and sought to increase satisfaction with work by recognizing the importance of work-group norms and the effect of styles of leadership. Elton MAYO's famous research, which initiated the human relations approach, has given rise to a continuing body of work concerned with the conditions and techniques which help to promote worker satisfaction (see MASLOW, Herzberg 1968, SOCIOTECHNICAL SYSTEMS APPROACH). The most recent initiatives in this area involve the new types of working arrangements associated with post-Fordism (see FORDISM AND POST-FORDISM) and JAPANIZATION.

The AFFLUENT WORKER studies of GOLDTHORPE, LOCKWOOD et al. (see also CLASS IMAGERY) have also pointed to the importance of the kinds of orientation which workers bring with them to the workplace, showing that workers sometimes express satisfaction with routine and repetitive manual tasks simply because work was well paid.

Much of the ‘classical’ sociological research in this area has focused on manual workers in jobs where control over the work process is often lacking. Professional, managerial, technical and scientific kinds of work, which have higher STATUS, greater responsibility and autonomy (see WORK SITUATION), as well as commanding higher financial rewards (see MARKET SITUATION), typically allow for greater intrinsic satisfaction. This view may be modified by the reorganization of the labour market, which has occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, where many professional kinds of work have undergone increasing levels of regulation and surveillance (e.g. teachers and doctors), where employment contracts are short-term and work is less secure, and where the labour process itself has been intensified at all occupational levels.

Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
References in periodicals archive ?
There is an important role for public policy in encouraging and supporting systematic research that would throw further light on the prevailing orientations to work, livelihoods and careers which would then lead to the formulation of reliable and valid methods for the delivery of career development services, relevant to the developing world context.
Their shared "other-oriented" perspective allows CEB women to transcend their surprisingly heterogeneous religious personalities and political orientations to work together for the welfare of not only their own families but also of the sons and daughters and husbands of Brazil.