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Bringing the Firms Back in: Stratification, Segmentation, and the Organization of Work

Опубликовано на портале: 23-12-2002
American Sociological Review. 1980.  Vol. 45. No. 5. P. 737-765. 
This essay examines the shift toward "structural" explanations in recent studies of inequality. After reviewing this body of research and some of its shortcomings, we examine its theoretical underpinnings, comparing "structuralist" perspectives on work organization derived from institutional economics and neo-Marxism to more orthodox accounts based on neoclassical and "industrialism" theories. This discussion suggests areas where the different perspectives overlap and diverge. We conclude that work arrangements within the firm and their trend are the focus of most "structural" perspectives on positional stratification; thus, empirical studies grounded at the organizational level are more likely to inform current debates about the "structure of work" than is the growing body of research about structural effects on individual attainment or covariation among industrial/occupational characteristics. Toward that end, an agenda for future research is outlined, focusing on three aspects of work organization: (a) the units which comprise the structure of work and the dimensions underlying economic segmentation; (b) the effects of sectoral differentiation on technical and administrative arrangements within firms; and (c) temporal changes in how enterprises organize production. We provide some illustrations of the kinds of empirical data and research hypotheses required to link research on segmentation and stratification more closely to studies of organizations.
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