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Title: A sociological study of workers' responses to change in the organisation of the gas industry
Author: Harris, David Richards
ISNI:       0000 0001 3533 9758
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 1988
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Ethnographers of the workplace have concentrated their attention upon workgroups at the microscopic level - social interaction at the workplace - often involving little discussion of the macroscopic context of the economic and the political. My objective in this study is to give the working lives of the workers studied a context deriving from the situational aspects of the ethnography, and to highlight the dynamic historical processes through which those working lives proceed in the workplace, at a time of significant social change. Much traditional academic sociology of the workplace, in particular, interactionist studies, have given too little attention to ongoing historical processes, structures of power, and material interests which provide a context for the social activity of individuals and groups at work. This study attempts to go some way towards rectifying the deficiency. The study is about the work lives of the gas meter readers and slot meter collectors of a large city conurbation in the southern half of England that I call Eastborough. I joined the meter readers on a temporary basis and even before I became a meter reader I kept a diary of daily events, thereafter I recorded my workday experiences, conversations with the public, and with other meter readers and collectors. I became, almost imperceptibly, a 'covert' participant observer, spending several subsequent years sharing the daily work experiences, first of the meter readers, then the slot collectors. Part one introduces the conceptual framework of the study, linked to the historical and organizational changes outlined in chapter one. The difficulties and problems of studying isolated workers is also raised. Part two consists of a detailed discussion of the daily work lives of the meter readers and collectors. The experiences of the author as a meter reader, and later a collector, is used to demonstrate the ways in which the problems of studying isolated workers were handled. Part three examines the experiences of work intensification related to the introduction- of different working methods and the themes of contestation and acceptance of the changes. Part four continues on the topic of organizational change introduced in part three, but debates it within the context of a substantial shift in political and economic circumstances. Finally, the conceptual themes raised in part one are evaluated within the framework of the historical and organizational changes, and the impact of these upon the workers degree of individualism or collectivity in confronting them. They are assessed in the light of differences in the labour process which resulted from the introduction of the new working methods discussed in part three.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor