Causes of occupational communities: a theoretical study of occupational solidarity in contemporary society

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


The present research was a theory building endeavor which utilized the concept of occupational community. This study had a dual focus, causes of occupational communities and occupational solidarity. The causes of occupational communities (work groups which have distinct work and leisure overlap, occupationally based reference groups, and strong sense of separation from outsiders) were specified through an examination of sociological literature on eighteen occupations. The most notable finding from this was that causes of occupational communities were such that we can expect these work structures to emerge well into the future. The second aim was to generate theory about occupational solidarity. Causal factors were integrated into a constructive typology which theorized that solidarity and control were major social facts in occupational communities. Solidarity was seen serving to bind workers to one another, while control secured workers into work roles. Control could be internal or external to the occupational community, depending upon whether or not the workers in the community had power and autonomy to regular their work and enforce boundaries. Solidarity was theorized to be either dynamic or static. Dynamic solidarity was seen as dialectically related to control forces, that is, sometimes conflicting with control, or at least in a state of "anxiety." Static solidarity, the opposite of dynamic, was a type coterminous with control forces and did not offer any resistance. The main conclusion was that the dynamic-static solidarity, internal-external control theory may be applicable to all occupations within a capitalist economic structure.