In simple terms, sociology can be defined as interaction between individuals and groups. Sociology is a broad area and encompasses a wide range of topics and issues such as culture, interactions between people, levels of inequality in a society, socialisation etc. and impact of all of these on human behaviour and thinking. This essay focuses on a narrow segment of sociology, which is explanation of changing nature of work through sociology.
The approach to sociology can be divided into two groups: micro and macro. Micro-sociology focuses on study of behaviour in various situations in a daily life. Macro-sociology, on the other hand, has a broader scope and employed to explain the various aspects of broad social systems.
Changing nature of work can be explained from both perspectives – micro-sociology and macro-sociology. From micro-sociology perspective, changes in the nature of work as described above have certain implications for employees in individual and personal levels such as possibility to achieve greater levels of work-life balance in multiple ways.
Alternatively, from macro-sociology perspective, national and global implications of changes in the nature of work are assessed such as resulting changes in cultural values, competitive advantage to be gained by local producers due to cost reductions, and others. Relatively recently the notion of meso-sociology has also been introduced and this refers to “analysis of social phenomena in between the micro and macro levels” (Doda, 2005, p.17).
Moreover, embracing of alternative working patterns is becoming a popular pattern of social behaviour. Distinctive features of this behaviour include extensive use of internet for a wide range of purposes and social mobility.
Popular theoretical approaches to sociology include Functionalism, Marxism, Feminism, Post-Modernism, Theory of Rational Choice and others and each of these approaches is a broad topic on their own accounts. Nevertheless, assessment of implications of changing nature of work from these approaches is necessary in order to obtain better chances of controlling social circumstances.
The field of sociology can be divided into six broad areas and changing nature of work can be explained from the perspective of each of these areas in the following manner:
Firstly, sociology as a field of social organisation and theory of social order relates to institutions and groups, their relations to people and with each other. In this case in particular, this aspects of sociology is associated with implications of changing nature of work on organisational practices in public and private sector.
Secondly, social control aspect of sociology concentrates on maintaining social order and analysis of influence amongst society’s members. In terms of changing nature of work, social control can be exercised in order to analyse the spread of alternative working patterns in society due to the influence of opinions leaders within the society.
Thirdly, social change field of sociology analyses changes in society and its institutions due to the impact of technological innovations, diffusion of culture, and others. Within the settings of the present discussion social changes resulting from changing nature of work need to be analysed.
Fourthly, social processes field of sociology focuses on patterns of social change resulting from the changing nature of work. This may include digitalisation of communication with colleagues, de-urbanisation due to the possibilities of working from other geographical locations etc.
Fifthly, social groups field of sociology explains formation, structuring, functioning and change of social groups. In present case of changing nature of work social groups may relate to virtual teams and communities in organisations and work-related networking websites. Moreover, growing numbers of professional social networking websites such as LinkedIn, Biznik, and Cofoundr, as well as, a wide range of industry-specific social networking websites can be highlighted as new social groups emerged as a result of changing nature of work.
Sixthly, social problems field of sociology is focused on negative social conditions that need to be eliminated such as crime, discrimination, alcoholism, drug addiction etc. Currently, there is a lack of social studies devoted to the analysis of social problems resulting from changing nature of work.
Moreover, changes in the nature of work as discussed above can result in development of relevant social structures which can be explained as “stable patterns of social relations” (Furze, 2011, p.5).
Microstructures to be developed as a result of the changing nature of work relate to changes in social relations in an intimate level such as patterns of interaction amongst colleagues, and
Macrostructures as an impact of changing nature of work, on the other hand, may involve elimination of bureaucracies within organisational processes and development of an open and culturally-sensitive organisational culture.
Doda, Z. (2005) “Introduction to Sociology” Debub University
Furze, B., Savy, P., Brym, R. & Lie, J. (2011) “ Sociology in Today’s World” Cengage Learning