Article

Organizations

Saylor Breckenridge and Scott Savage

in Sociology

ISBN: 9780199756384
Published online July 2011 | | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/obo/9780199756384-0039
Organizations

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Sociology
  • Comparative and Historical Sociology
  • Economic Sociology
  • Gender and Sexuality
  • Health, Illness, and Medicine
  • Population and Demography
  • Race and Ethnicity
  • Social Movements and Social Change
  • Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility
  • Social Theory

GO

Show Summary Details

Preview

Organizations are, generally speaking, those stable elements of social life designed and created for the purpose of goal achievement. As empirical units of analysis and as a theoretical framework, they are a central component of sociology. Organizations serve as primary structures within which people work, through which business is conducted, and about which states establish regulatory policy: they affect the daily lives of individuals and the broader communities in which we live, and they intersect and integrate with the institutions of labor, politics, and economics. Discussion of organizations pervades the foundations of sociological inquiry—Karl Marx in addressing labor inequality, Max Weber in considering bureaucracy, and Émile Durkheim and Adam Smith in their takes on the division of labor all address issues of organizations as elemental conditions of social life, and in so doing, introduce ideas that now stand as part of the bedrock of sociology. By the latter half of the 20th century, organizational sociology was an identifiable subfield with a set of theories, empirical evidence, and an aggregate community of scholars writing on the topic. Looking inside organizations, sociologists now understand that organizational operations can affect the effectiveness and happiness of laborers; that systems of stratification within organizations are components of the social landscape of power and inequality; and that leadership and management are a “visible hand” that shapes industrial enterprise. Viewing organizations as unique entities, sociologists have come to see them both as abstract sets of rules and regulations that govern relationships of individuals and groups and as specific establishments with sets of actors and internal suborgans that enable day-to-day operation, which vary along dimensions of formality, longevity, and economic auspices, and which succeed or fail depending on a host of environmental, ecological, and institutional factors. From a broader external perspective, organizations are actors on the economic and political stage: organizations exist together in an environment of resources which may be regulated in terms of access and use but may also be shaped by the political initiatives of organizations in efforts to create advantages. Organizations compete and cooperate in this environment and are tied together within networks and hierarchies of personal, demographic, and legal relationships. The political units that govern these national and international relationships are, themselves, organizations, thus opening the door to an organizational theory and assessment of the state and government. Altogether, the topic of organizations and its related theories permeate sociology as a field.

Article.  11591 words. 

Subjects: Sociology ; Comparative and Historical Sociology ; Economic Sociology ; Gender and Sexuality ; Health, Illness, and Medicine ; Population and Demography ; Race and Ethnicity ; Social Movements and Social Change ; Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility ; Social Theory

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.