Sociological Interpretation Of Labor Unions

Submitted By Poxywallow
Words: 1223
Pages: 5

Spencer Brannon
Azedeh Jahanbegloo
SOC 200-05
20 May 2011
Sociological Interpretation of Labor Unions Labor unions started in the United States as a direct response to unmitigated exploitation by the upper class of those who were forced to work. Paltry pay and heinous conditions made working in factories or mines incredibly dangerous. Unions were created to fix these problems, and they, by many accounts, did exactly that. The fact that they have stayed around so long, however, begs the question of what they contemporaneous duties and goals should be. The premise of their foundation of has been resolved, so it is up to the public, and eventually government, to dictate what the future role of unions will be. In her April 6, 2011, "As dust from Senate Bill 5 battle settles, Democrats propose bill to recall statewide officials" report, Jo Ingles, with Ohio Public Radio, finds that Democrats, who are unhappy with the republic response to this necessity of redefining the role of unions, wanted to petition to recall, or host an interim-election vote, for certain statewide officials. Because it is not in the law to do so, a band of them in the Senate decided to propose legislation that would legalize the recall of certain elected officials once the signatures of 15% of the previous voting electorate for the official to be recalled have been gathered in petition. All of this occurs, she states, because the Democrats ardently oppose the passage of Senate Bill 5, which limits the rights and freedoms of public unions. One of the best ways of determining who has it right in this battle of ideas is to incorporate a sociological interpretation of labor unions. Sociologists use something called the "sociological imagination", which is really just an awareness of the relationship an individual has with the wider society, to determine this. The sociological imagination requires that the user view problems and agents with a conscious understanding of the effects it carries throughout the entire society, not necessarily just those which affect him or her. This awareness allows people to comprehend the links between the immediate, personal social settings and the remote, impersonal social world. Sociologists apply this imagination through a variety of perspectives, but the main applicable viewpoints to this issue are the functionalist, interactionist, and conflict perspectives. The functionalist perspective tends to focus on the macro side of the sociologic interpretation. In examining any aspect of society, functionalists emphasize the contribution it makes to overall social stability. They view society as stable and well-integrated, and look into the functions, both latent and manifest, of the issue. They believe that social change is predictable and reinforcing. The functionalist perspective also takes into account certain dysfunctions, which are agents that do not contribute to stability all the time. Their views were championed by Émile Durkheim and Robert Merton. Functionalists would view unions as a means for preserving the stability of society when they were founded. They would agree with the need for labor unions in the early twentieth century, when workers' rights were not guaranteed by law. They agree with the manifest function of unions but believe that the latent functions actually serve as an agent against stability. They believe that unions are a dysfunction to society because the union is serving to destabilize business and is causing too great a burden to be placed on the public. Because they no longer are contributing to a society's stability or survival — which is the basic tenet for what gets passed on/exists in the functionalist perspective — this view would old that unions must be changed and removed. The conflict perspective follows the argument that social order is based on coercion and exploitation. Conflict theorists focus on inequality and how social agents exacerbate this. Their view is