Sociology of the organizations
the sociology of the organizations is a branch of the Sociologie which studies how the actors build and coordinate organized activities.
One can also define it as a social science which studies named particular entities Organization S, and which applies the sociological methods to the study of these entities.
It belongs to the more total whole of the Théorie of the organizations .
What the sociology of the organizations?
What an organization?
Concretely, the term Organization can have three distinct directions:
- a regrouping the human ones which coordinates their activities to reach some But S. the organization is thus considered like an answer to the problem of the Class action suit, its coordination and its stabilization.
- the various ways by which these groupings structure the means they have to arrive to their ends.
- the action to organize, or the process which generates the groupings or the organisational structures.
The study of the organizations answers triple requirement then:
- the companies (modern or old), are composed of whole in which the individuals pass most of their life. It is thus essential to analyze and include/understand the operation of these groupings. More especially as certain factors like the industrial merger, the increase in wage-earning, the development of the Public administrations create Entité S increasingly vast and increasingly many.
- All these entities, in spite of their differences, have common characteristics and have to solve nearby problems.
- It is important to include/understand the logic which hides behind this organisational diversity. And there are as many specific forms of organizations of objectives justifying the class action suit: economic, social, political, religious, ecological, caritative, etc organisational diversity is also related to their degree of Complexité and on other parameters: cut, technology, context…
The sociology of the organizations, by studying the organisational phenomenon, raises certain recurring problems, which are often related to the tensions which affect the organizations. They gave place to various topics of studies. For example:
- cohesion . The studies falling under this set of themes endeavor to include/understand how the organizations manage to maintain to them Structure and them identity, in spite of the internal tensions and external which they undergo.
- the study of the formal structure and abstract . Many studies sought to clarify the bonds between the formal structure and the abstract social relations within the organizations.
- the adaptation . How the organizations manage do the Innovation and how integrate it they to adapt to their technical and social environment? Certain studies try to include/understand how and why the formal structure evolves/moves, through the processes which control the creation and the modification of the rules. Others are interested in integration of the technical innovations in the organizations. Others finally, are focused on the cultural changes.
- the Hierarchy and relations of To be able . The topics approached are the autonomy of the actors, the various types of organization (matric, horizontal, pyramidal), the management of the capacity, the allocation of resources, the negotiation, etc
- the Social link and identity, as well as the phenomena Culture ls .
- the study of the circulation of the Information and tools of Communication .
- conflict or pathological situations . Trade-union conflicts, situation of Stress, precariousness, phenomenon of the wall cupboard, lower Productivité, investigation into the causes of blockings within the organizations, etc
Origins of the sociology of the organizations
It is towards the end of the XIXe century that the first sociological studies of the organisational phenomenon appear. They are related to a double movement: the development of large the Industry S and the Bureaucracy S, the constitution of the Sociology like distinct body of Knowledge.
Three authors will dissociate themselves. They will produce parallel and complementary work.
- In Germany, max Weber analyzes the bureaucratic phenomenon. He studies it under the angle of the rationalization, but he also will be interested in the role of the religion on the company spirit and dynamics of capitalism. Destinies mainly with a university public, the theories of max Weber will have a primarily heuristic range. They will not give place to concrete applications.
- With the the United States, Frederick Taylor, engineer and economist, develops a normative theory of the organization: the Taylorism. This one is centered on the study of the optimization and the rationalization of the production. Its work will arouse a great interest and will find to apply in many industrial sectors. From a theoretical point of view, one can regard it as the precursor of the Scientific management.
- In France, Henri Fayol, a French engineer, is interested as for him in the various types of administrations. He seeks the processes of management which are best adapted to establish an optimal administration. He is regarded as the father of the modern Management. Its theory will take later the name of Fayolisme.
School of the human relations
See also: School of the human relations
Work of the precursors is primarily normative, or the field of study which they cover is too vast to allow the constitution of a true discipline. In fact, the sociology of the organizations really will emerge with the development of the School of the human relations.
This school, born in the Years 1930 with the the United States of America, is dominated by the personality of Elton Mayo. She affirms, against the Taylorisme, the crucial role of the human factor and relational in the determination of the economic productivity. She thus reintroduces the psychosocial factors in the middle of the organisational analysis, thus leaving the field open to the application of the methods resulting from the sociological analysis.
After the Second world war, the sociology of the organizations experiences a significant development until the beginning of the year 1980. It is during this period that will constitute a traditional corpus. This corpus gathers some large theoretical currents which explore various dimensions of the organizations. It generally draws its inspiration within various sociological or economic paradigms: the Systemic social, understanding sociology, the approach culturalist, social psychology, the socioanalyse, economy of conventions, the Microéconomie, etc
Decades 1950 and 1960 see being born with Tavistock Institute from London, the school known as Socio-technique. This school studies the bond between the technical and human systems. It leaves the report which the technological changes have determining an impact on the operation of the groups and the individuals who compose them. What implies that the decisions must take account of the human factors (qualifications, waitings, feelings, values) and of the environment (equipment, machinery, processes, work hours, work conditions). The systemic school will be registered in prolongation of work of this school.
School of the contingency
See also: School of the contingency
In the prolongation of the school socio-technique, the school of the contingency tries to give an account of the way in which the organizations are structured by studying the influence of the variables of context on the characteristics of the organizations. With the difference of the primarily normative design taylorienne of the good organization “in oneself”, Henri Mintzberg, the principal one representing school of the contingency, affirms that the organisational structure is related to the nature of the environment, but it is not it in a mechanical or deterministic way. Because the structure also depends on the goals that the leaders fix themselves. In fact, the internal regulating mechanisms of an organization must be as varied as the environment with which it must compose.
Theory of the strategic actor
See also: Theory of the strategic actor
This theory, worked out by Michel Crozier and Erhard Friedberg supposes on the contrary that one cannot consider that the play of the actors is given only by the coherence of the system or the environmental constraints. One must seek in priority to include/understand how the class action suits starting from behaviors and of sometimes contradictory individual interests between them are built. Therefore, instead of connecting the organisational Structure to a unit of external factors, this theory apprehends it as built human, joining in that a step which locates the determinants causals like energy mainly of the individual towards the structure (methodological individualism) and not of the structure towards the individual (structuralism).
Theory of the social regulation
See also: Theory of the social regulation
The strategic Analyze remains rather vague on the way in which the rules are built. It sets up especially ahead the strategies of the actors with respect to the rules already, and insists mainly on the rational behavior of the actors with respect to these rules. The current of the regulation of Jean-Daniel Reynaud tries to fill this gap, while remaining in the continuity of the strategic analysis, by studying the mechanisms which intervene in the production, the maintenance, the destruction and the application of the rules in the organizations. It thus tries to include/understand how the construction of the rules is carried out, those by which a social group structure and becomes capable of class action suits. In that, it results in considering the social order either in a static way, but on the contrary with the manner of a negotiated and dynamic order.
Identities with work
Concurrently to these universities, which are focused on the rules and the relations of being able, one finds approaches which concentrate more on the identity aspects. They study on the one hand the creation of Self through the experiment of the Socialisation in company, and on the other hand, they attach the permanence of the rules to the identity phenomena. These approaches are thus centered on the social Identité with the work.
Renaud Sainsaulieu, for example, affirms that the construction of the identity to work is done within various models of relations from being able like:
- the model of fusion . It appears in the contexts marked by repetitive and little qualified tasks. The actor to develop itself has other resources only the collective.
- the model of the negotiation . It intervenes when the situations of work allow an access to the strategic positions.
- the model of affinities . It appears in situations of professional mobility.
- the model of withdrawal . The experiment of the capacity is so sporadic that it authorizes only one weak investment in the personal relations with work.
One thus substitutes with Sainsaulieu an approach of the capacity in term of identity for an approach of the capacity in term of utility. Basically, the capacity, the negotiation in the action become also important, if it is not any more, that contents of the negotiations.
Two great types of analyzes are found: those which are interested in the macro-social culture and its purposes on the company, those which are focused on the culture which emerges from the continuous activity within the work places.
The first is directed in two directions.
- To find homologies structural between the organisational structure and the social structure. For example, according to Philippe d' Iribarne, resemblance between the military model of hierarchy, and that of the hierarchy in company is not a simple coincidence. Because according to him, the business management is not exclusively given by economic or technological criteria. In practice indeed, the manager seizes possibilities offered by the social systems and cultural which propose a repertory of forms of legitimate organization . The manager must then - and it is even more or less constrained to do it - set up the practices of organization which are coherent with these forms.
- To study the impact of the social culture on the individual behaviors in company. This approach was in particular developed by Pierre Bourdieu and its disciples.
Another approach makes it possible to correct this skew, it is that of the study of the Microphone-culture S. It was developed inter alia, by Michel Liu. It makes it possible to analyze the organizations by combining the contributions of the school culturalist, of the qualitative Sociologie, the Interactionnisme symbolic system, and the school socio-technique.
The idea is that the culture emerges from the activity of work. The cultures of trade are constituted starting from cumulated and historicized experiments of strategic capacities. These experiments come from:
- former social culture.
- characteristics of work through its Symbol S.
- the production engineering organization.
- the strategic situation in the relations of To be able.
- systems of the relations of work.
It is shown whereas the application of a Régulation of control can run up against the microphone-culture of a company or a workshop. Actors keeping, because of the capacity of negotiation that the zones of uncertainty confer to them, the possibility of ruining the rules which emanate from the direction. Consequently, an organisational change must be accompanied by the taking into account of these rules sociétales. And these rules were generally worked out and selected during a long process of tests and errors, which allowed the accumulation and the improvement of a local Savoir-faire. The rules can then serve one or more masked purposes. And these finalities will be generally ignored regulator, insofar as not being integrated in the context of work, it does not have access to “the history” of this rule at the time when it undertakes to exert its power of regulation.
However, these rules have a crucial function within the organization. For example, so in a workshop, it is of habit to curtly accommodate the newcomers, one should not therefore concluding some with the existence from a hostile feeling which would aim at drawing aside from the potential competitors. In fact, such a rule has very an other finality. It makes it possible to select the workers by testing their capacity of resistance, while accustoming them to the difficult work conditions which reign in the organization.
Within the traditional corpus, there also exists of many approaches, perhaps more marginal, which mix sociology and psychology. One can distinguish (arbitrarily) three types from them.
theories resulting from the socio-psychoanalysis. In fact approaches apply the psychoanalytical concepts and methods to the organizations. Some take as a starting point the theories of Lacan, others like those of Eugene Enriquez, exploit and prolong work of Freud on the Crowd psychology.
theories resulting from the social Psychology. There exist many approaches. Some study the Group dynamic in the organizations, others the abstract relations: friendships, influence, capacity, persuasion, leadership, conformism, etc a current was also born around the Théories from the needs and the motivations.
Lastly, certain approaches try to use the cognitive Sciences, the qualitative Sociologie, microphone-sociology, the Interactionnisme symbolic system or the Ethnométhodologie for better including/understanding the operation of the organizations. Very often, they are based on an understanding methodology and detailed observations of the organisational ground. Erving Goffman thus introduced the famous concept of total Institution.
During years 1980 and 90 appeared new approaches. They try to explore new tracks, or to synthesize older approaches.
Ideal model of the economies of the size
See also: Economies of the size
This current analyzes the organizations in term of conventions and agreements. It is about an interdisciplinary approach.
The economy of conventions, which is used as a basis for the model of the economies of the size, leaves the idea that so that there is exchange, coordination, co-operation between agents, one needs that there are conventions between the people concerned, i.e. a system of reciprocal waitings between the people on their behaviors. These conventions can be written or not. Consequently, the actors are inserted in at the same time conflict and co-operative situations, and one must exceed cleavage between economy and Sociologie.
The model of the economies of the size clarifies the problems of coordination in company. It makes it possible to partly answer questions that the traditional models, centered on the strategies, the phenomena of being able, the phenomena of regulation and the phenomena identity, leave side.
Sociology of the translation
See also: Sociology of the translation
An also promising approach in sociology of the organizations is provided to us by the sociology of the translation of Michel Callon and Bruno Latour. It also makes it possible it to approach sets of themes more or less neglected by the traditional corpus. It concentrates on the phenomena of network, the methods of intervention within these networks and on the constitution of the knowledge within the organizations.
Sociology of logics of action
See also: Sociology of logics of action
The sociology of logics of action is developed by Henri Amblard and Philippe Bernoux. It is directed in three directions:
- need for exceeding the traditional corpus of sociology of the organizations.
- impossibility of thinking the company apart from dialectical enters the conflict and the co-operation.
- the rearticulation of theoretical units being able a priori to seem exclusive.
Bibliography in sociology of the organizations
Philippe Bernoux, the sociology of the organizations , Threshold, 1990.
- Philippe Bernoux, Henri Amblard, Gilles Herreros, Yves-Frederic Livian, the sociological new approaches of the organizations , Threshold, 2005.
- Luc Boltanski, Eve Chiapello, the New Spirit of capitalism , Gallimard, 1999.
- Michel Callon, Bruno Latour, Science such as it is made , the Discovery, 1991.
- Michel Crozier, Erhard Friedberg, Itactor and the system. Constraints of the class action suit , Threshold, 1992.
- Eugene Enriquez, Of the horde to the state: Test of psychoanalysis of the social link , Gallimard, 2003, ISBN: 2070428303
- Michel Liu, Bases and practices of the research-action , Paris, Harmattan, 1997.
- Henri Mintzberg, capacity in the organizations , Editions of Organization, 1986.
- Jean-Daniel Reynaud, Rules of the game: The class action suit and social regulation , Armand Colin, 1997.
- Renaud Sainsaulieu, identity with work , Presses of Sciences Po, 1977.
- Sociology, Institution
- industrial Sociology, Sociology of work
- important Publications in sociology
Notes of reading in sociology of the organizations carried out by students with the CNAM
- the gate of social sciences
- Center of sociology of the organizations
- Center of Studies and Research in Sociology of the Organizations
- books of studies of dynamic social and research-action
- the theory of Fayol in short
- general Course of introduction to the sociology of the organizations
- File of 28 pages in pdf on the various theories of the organizations
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