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Title: Elements of workers' consciousness : images of society among manual and clerical workers
Author: Davis, H. H.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1978
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This study contributes both theoretically and empirically to the understanding of workers' social consciousness and images of society. A major feature is the documentation and analysis of 80-in-depth interviews with maintenance craftsmen, steel melters and insurance workers in three locations in Central Scotland. Previous British and European research is examined and it is argued that the common hypothesis of a straightforward connection between social experience and social imagery remains unsupported by the majority of findings. There follows a detailed consideration of the theory of worker's consciousness to be found in the 'actionalist' sociology of A. Touraine and its particular advantage in viewing consciousness as a relation rather than an object is explained. A methodology for the investigation of social consciousness is developed so as to capture the ambiguities and inconsistencies in people's thinking about 'society' which the action theory predicts. The analysis of the interviews is presented in the framework of three theoretically-constructed elements of social consciousness: identity, opposition and totality. The steelworkers are the only group with a strongly occupational identity. The maintenance craftsmen have a measure of 'craft consciousness' but the clerical workers' consciousness of social relations within the firm and society at large is dominated by a 'systems' or totality view. The interpretation emphasises the effects of the long-term tendency towards fragmentation of work in industrial societies. The consequences for social action of these variations in social consciousness are studied in relation to trade union participation, styles of association, voting behaviour, etc. and an attempt is made to account for the relative absence of oppositional elements among the three groups. To conclude, this evidence is placed within a wider historical and social context. Contemporary tendencies in work and culture are examined in order to explain why social consciousness is not synonymous with class consciousness.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available