Industrial Democracy and Inequality in Organizations

Topics: Sociology, Social class, Marxism Pages: 12 (1252 words) Published: March 7, 2014
Industrial Democracy and
Inequality in Organisations
“Much of the social and economic
inequality in the United States and other
industrial countries is created in
organisations, in the daily activities of
working and organizing the work” (Acker
2006).

RMIT University

Slide 1

Issues to discuss:
• What is Industrial Democracy?
• What do we mean by inequality?
– Class
– Race/ Ethnicity
– Gender


Discuss how these concepts relate to organisations.



Distinguish between contemporary theoretical approaches
to inequality in organisations
– Modern
– Critical
– Postmodern

RMIT University

Slide 2

Industrial Democracy
Industrial Democracy

Vs
Employee participation and consultation

“participation by employees in decisions
affecting their work”
RMIT University

Slide 3

Questions to consider
• To what extent is management prepared
to share power with employers and to
develop responsibility and authority for
decision making?
• What is the role of unions in participation?
• How far are equal opportunities for
participation available to all workers?
• What benefits does participation have for
employers and employees?
RMIT University

Slide 4

Inequality
Different groups within society possess
differing amounts of power, prestige and
wealth.
Inequality permeates access to education,
the labour market and all forms of
citizenship – including workplace
citizenship.
RMIT University

Slide 5

Inequality in organisations
Acker (2006):
“the systematic disparities between
participants in power and control over
goals, resources, outcomes, workplace
decisions, opportunities for promotion,
interesting work, security in employment,
benefits, pay, rewards, respect and
pleasure in work and workplace relations”
RMIT University

Slide 6

Class
Marxist perspective:
Class structure derives from the relationship
of social groups to means of production
• Bourgeoisie: owners of the means of production
• Proletariat: working class, own only their own
labour power
Classes inherently unequal in power and wealth

Class struggle the driving force for social change
RMIT University

Slide 7

Race/Ethnicity
Race: a 19th Century concept
The biological differences between groups
of people – Eurasians, African, Asian.
Racism: mobilisation of racial prejudices and
stereotypes to justify discrimination, denial
of rights and benefits.

RMIT University

Slide 8

Race/Ethnicity
Ethnicity: The way that groups of
people can be defined, or define
themselves, in terms of linguistic,
cultural and lifestyle characteristics.
• Race understood as biological
• Ethnicity understood as social
RMIT University

Slide 9

Gender
Sex ≠ Gender
Sex: the biological basis of human
sexual identity.
Gender: The social organisation of the
facts of biological sex into the
recognisable categories of
masculinity and femininity.
RMIT University

Slide 10

What does this mean for
organisations?
• Organisations are social institutions.
• All three forms of inequality are present in
organisations.
• Organisations are critical locations for the
investigation of inequalities because much
societal inequality originates in them.
• Organisations are also the target for many
attempts to alter patterns of inequality.
• The study of organisations provides an
opportunity to observe aspects of the
reproduction of inequalities.
RMIT University

Slide 11

Modernist Conceptions of Inequality
Focus =

How inequality is distributed within organisations.
Measuring the impact of inequality on organisational
effectiveness.

Goal =
Improve organisational efficiency and effectiveness.
Utilise a full range of human resources by ensuring that
there is less discrimination in the workplace.
The ‘Business Case’ approach to promoting equality
RMIT University

Slide 12

Modernist Conceptions of Inequality
• Early modernists aware of class...
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