Deindustrialization: Sociology and Middle Class

Topics: Sociology, Working class, Middle class Pages: 9 (3344 words) Published: November 11, 2008
One of the most dramatic social changes of the past half-century has been the decline of manufacturing employment in democratic states. What caused this dramatic social change? Research on deindustrialization, considers it one of the most controversial explanations that has been the impact of economic globalization. This phenomenon widely referred to as deindustrialization is triggering the fall of employment in the manufacturing sectors of the worlds most advanced economies. This economic change primarily has a large effect on the working class community. The working class is a population consisting of blue-collar workers, who are particularly skilled and semiskilled laborers referred to as property-less factory workers. The manufacturing industry provided millions of working class citizens a ticket into the middle class. Deindustrialization effects on working class communities are seen in the withdrawal of automobile plants in manufacturing communities and the opening of new automobile plants in less developed countries. Deindustrialization might not be across the board, but is the decline of manufacturing in one geographic area relative to others. This geographical area is referred to as the rust belt. “The Rust Belt refers to an economic region of the United States concentrated in the formerly dominant industrial states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. The Rust Belt is a symbolic name for a devastating economic change” (Wikipedia, 2006). This economic change consists of tremendous economic decline in a region which includes the loss of manufacturing jobs in one plant towns leading to social break-down. For instance, an institutional neighborhood includes various groups of people, businesses and stores, practicing professionals, formal and informal organizations and various institutions. The institutional neighborhood is a larger unit that has some official status as a sub area of the city. The institutional neighborhood provides the opportunity to focus on organizational and institutional collaboration and may require the construction of formal mechanisms for citizen participation if individual residents are to be directly represented. These neighborhoods changed from institutional to jobless ghettos because globalization has caused businesses to move down south to lower developed countries. These businesses formerly employed a large amount of the neighborhoods residents and by closing down these business and factories caused a loss of social organization. Therefore, institutional neighborhoods turned into economic regions referred to as the rust belt. Social organization is very important because it holds communities together, exerts social control and discourages negative behavior such as drugs and crime. When business’ move-out to the suburbs or other areas, middle and high class individual’s move- out to the suburbs with them leaving behind lower class individuals. Therefore, deindustrialization causes a loss of community institutions and organizations causing fewer employment opportunities. Loss of social organization and failure of community are all negatives effects of the withdrawal of manufacturing plants within the working class communities. To survive in the new global economy, modern western society manufacturing industry had to merge and diversify with the south’s undeveloped countries. Foreign competition was stiff, and the wages required by unionized employees made American steel too costly to compete. “In 1982 employment costs per hour for an American steelworker was $23.99, compared to $13.45 in West Germany, $11.08 in Japan, and $2.32 in South Korea” (Manning, 2001, p. 182). Therefore, those manufacturing industries believed it was necessary to get employment costs down to compete with national market. “In turn, in the United States between 1978 and 1981, 300,000 auto jobs were lost. By the end of 1981, Michigan's unemployment rate stood at nearly 13%, while the national...

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