Occupational Subcultures Essay

588 words - 2 pages

An important characteristic of large industrialized societies like ours is the diversity of occupations. As often happens when people share a common goal and interact over time, many of the workers in our economic system have become members of occupational subcultures. These subcultures consist of specialized technologies, norms, sanctions, values, symbols, and language, all of which serve to promote activity toward common goals, integrate the group, and protect the interests of group members.One celebrated example is the subculture of factory workers that was accidentally discovered by Elton Mayo and his associates in the 1930s. The research team visited the Hawthorne plant of the Western Electric Company to study the effects on productivity of variations in lighting. What the researchers found was that lighting had little to do with worker output. Instead, work group norms were found to be the strongest forces affecting the daily production levels of the subjects of the research. The workers used a specialized language, and applied powerful sanctions against proscribed behavior as important social control mechanisms.A great deal of the research on factory workers emanated from a concern for increased industrial productivity. Since the 1940s, however, sociologists have gone beyond the factory setting to conduct inquiries into other occupational groups. Lately, much research has been done on fishermen, for several reasons. First, there are certain features about fishermen and their communities that differentiate them from others and are of scientific interest. Second, the Fisheries Conservation and Management Act of 1976 stipulates that the effect of new federal policies on how American fishermen make a living must be studied in advance. Third, newly developing state laws in coastal areas will also have great impact on fishermen, and research is required...

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