Essay on Industrial Sociology

Industrial revolution, in course of time resulted in the continuous process of industrialization is a phenomenon of world significance today. Development in the field of science and technology further added to the volume and speed of the process.

Agricultural economy turned into industrial economy. Industrial area developed into towns and cities. The process of urbanisation began. People from rural areas started flocking towards cities. Capitalist economy was born. Social classes with class-hatreds emerged. Social institutions and values underwent changes.

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New prob­lems and new fears and new anxieties were invariably the results of it. The very face of the society changed. These developments necessitated the birth of a new branch of sociology called “Industrial Sociology’ which essentially deals with the industrial society with all its complexities.

Definition of Industrial Sociology:

(i) ‘Industrial sociology is the application of the sociological approach to the reality and prob­lems of industry’. -P. Gisbert.

(ii) Industrial sociology centers its attention on the social organisation of factory, the store, and the office. This focus includes not only the interactions of people playing roles in these organisations but also the ways in which their work roles are interrelated with other aspects of their life”.

(iii) Industrial sociology is the sociology of industrial relations and industrial activities of man. Development of Industrial Sociology

As a specialised branch of sociology, industrial sociology is yet to become mature. In fact, Durkheim and Max Weber in their classical styles have made some analysis of industrial institutions. But systematic research in the field has developed only in recent decades. It gained importance about the middle of the present century.

The famous experiments at the Hawthorne Works in Chicago, of the Western Electric Company, conducted by George Elton Mayo and his associates during the last twenties and in the early thirties, provided the fillip to the development of industrial sociology.

Industrial sociology gained the grounds comparatively on a wider scale in America. Various factors contributed to the development of industrial sociology in the U.S.A. The development of corporate industry, the achievement of scientific management, the unemployment of the depressed 1930s, the labour legislation of the New Deal (Economic Policy), the rise of human relations’, the manpower shortages and enforced restrictions of wartime, the great awakening of the trade unions, the continued emigration of the population from the American farm, the new technology and mechanisation, the desire for a higher standard of living, the occasional labour strikes involving thousands of workers, the investigation of the Congress, the legislative programme of the Kennedy Administration-and other factors contributed to the growth of this branch in America.

In the beginning, in Industrial Sociology much of the work was limited to the analysis of rather restricted problems. But today industrial sociologist’s field of study is developing. It now includes the analysis of industrial institutions and organisation. It also studies the relation between them. It examines the links between industrial phenomena and institutions of the wider society.

Theoretically, this is correct. But practically much remains to be done. As regards many of the internal problems of industrial organisations, our systematic knowledge is still fragmentary and inadequate. In respect of the links between industrial and other institutions our knowledge is scattered.

The Concept of Industry:

The key term to be explained here is ‘industry’.’Industry’ may be defined as ‘the application of complex and sophisticated methods to the production of economic goods and services’.

In order to improve the quality of production, reduce the cost and maximise the production, the complex meth­ods, that is, the machines were used. This process of mechanisation of production originated during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th century.

Man, in some way or the other, has always been industrial’. He has always used tools to obtain food and satisfy his needs. Advanced industry consists in the use of tools and machines that are far more complicated than the digging stick, the hoe, or the bow and arrow, used by the early Stone Age man to obtain his daily food.

In fact, the original Latin word for industry is ‘industrial’, which means skill and resourcefulness. The term ‘industry’ is applied to the modern sophisticated system of pro­curing goods and services which began in the Industrial Revolution.

The Sociological Approach:

A complex reality like ‘ industry’ can be studied from various points of view – technological, physical, psychological, economic, sociological etc. Sociology is essentially a science of society, of social relationships, associations and institutions. It analyses the social relations, their forms, con­tents and the systems they assume. Its method is scientific. Its approach is rational and empirical.

Industrial sociology is that branch of sociology which concerns mainly with the industrial relations of man. It examines the various industrial organisations and institutions, their interrelations and links with the other institutions and organisations of the wider society.

Scope of Industrial Sociology:

Industrial sociology is an applied discipline. It is concerned with the study of human relations as they grow and operate in the field of industries. It deals with the sociological concepts that have relevance to industry. It concentrates upon the social organisations of the work place or industry. It studies the patterns of interaction between people in terms of their roles in industrial organisations.

Industrial organisations are also studied by other disciplines such as- industrial management, industrial engineering, industrial psychology and economics. But they study the phenomena of in­dustry in different ways. Their studies sometimes may overlap.

Industrial engineering deals with the design of products and equipments. Industrial manage­ment is more an art than a science. Industrial psychology studies—the selection of personnel, job satisfaction, motivation and incentive to work, team spirit, accident proneness and such other per­sonal matters and behavioural problems.

Economics concentrates on such matters as-prices, wages, profits, full employment, finance, monopoly, marketing, taxation, etc. But none of these sciences focuses its attention on the social or human aspects of industrial organisations. This task is done only by industrial sociology.

Industrial sociology studies industrial organisation not as a technological or economic organisation, but more than that, as a social or human organisation. It stresses upon the social or interactional factors in industrial relations, formal and informal organisation, team work, communi­cation etc.

“When interaction among two or more persons is affected by the fact that one of them is a doctor, a teacher, a plumber, a factory worker, a stenographer, a boss, an employee, a union leader, or an unemployed person, we have before us the raw material of industrial sociology”.

The industrial sociology deals with the total organisation of the workplace. It also deals with three different organisations which may be conceived of as distinguishable but interrelated: namely, (a) management organisation, (b) informal organisation of workers, and (c) union organisation.

(a) ‘Management organisation’ refers to the relations between management and the workers. It also includes policies, programmes-structure and the functioning of the management. Its main emphasis is on the formal relations developed by the workers with the management.

(b) ‘Informal organisation’ of workers consists of informal relations developed voluntarily by the workers themselves. Such relations are established by the individuals and small groups within the factory or industry. Such organisations assume the forms of cliques, gangs, friendship groups, bands etc. These organisations develop their own informal norms to control the activities of the members.

(c) Union organisation refers to the role of trade unions and the participation or involvement of workers in union activities. Trade unions are playing a vital role in creating industrial unrest and maintaining industrial peace. They also control the formal and informal relations of the workers.

These three organisations of the industry are affected by the physical conditions of the work place, fashions in management thinking, governmental and other social control, the personalities of employees and their experiences in playing roles in other organisations.

Importance of Industrial Sociology:

Industrial sociology is of great practical importance.

(i) Industrial sociology has been of great help in finding solutions too many of the industrial disputes and instances of industrial unrest.

(ii) It has reduced the gap between industrial management and in6ustria workers; ft has also helped both to develop friendly relations.

(iii) Industrial Sociology has stressed upon the important role of trade unions in settling indus­trial disputes.

(iv) It has thrown light upon the problems of industrial workers. It has suggested ways and means of improving the living conditions of workers.

(v) Various industrial sociological studies have impressed upon the management and the gov­ernment the need to undertake social security measures for promoting labour welfare.

(vi) Industrial sociology studies the relations between man’s industrial activities on the one hand, and his political, economic, educational and other activities, on the other.

(vii) Industrial sociology also analyses the processes of industrialisation and urbanisation, their magnitude and their mutual interaction.

(viii) Finally industrial sociology plays a vital role in contributing to planned industrial growth.


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