Sociology for industry? : a study of the diffusion and use of industrial sociology in industry
The thesis considers the argument that industrial sociologists have acted as "servants of power". In order to examine this, the diffusion and use of a specific idea - autonomous work groups - was investigated. On examining the origin and potentials of the concept, it was concluded that the idea of autonomous work groups was potentially radical for the organisation of work. Much attention was found to have been devoted to the autonomous work group in publications, but the notion tended to be de-radicalised. The ways in which this (and similar ideas) reach managers in industry were examined through the activities of 'linkers' - journalists, information-giving organisations, consultants (both academic and commercial), industrial training boards and authors. The mechanics and factors influencing the diffusion of ideas to industry were examined through the study of a specific industry: brewing. It was found that managers neither highly rated, nor actively sought, ideas emanating from industrial sociologists; indeed, they were often antagonistic. Academics were seldom found to have any obvious role in the diffusion of industrial sociology to those in industry. Industrial sociologists are not 'servants of power': the notion is both too simplistic and naive. It is in the nature of our society that the presentation of ideas enhances the existing social order.