“The interesting contribution of this book is not just confined to capturing the role changes that a knowledge based society characterizing post-industrialism demands, but that it is able to bring about a fusion of micro individual and the macro societal role relationships…. This book makes interesting and useful reading for the serious management practitioner interested in gaining a grasp of the role alterations that are taking place in his own work domain, and comprehend its implications. The contribution of this work to sociological theory is in making predictions about the social changes which can come up with the transformation to a knowledge based society.” --Vikalpa “The interesting contribution of this book is not just confined to capturing the role changes that a knowledge based society characterizing post-industrialism demands, but that it is able to bring about a fusion of micro individual and the macro societal role relationships. This book, due to its rigour, is essentially academic oriented. But the writing style is such that it can also make interesting and useful reading for the serious management practitioner interested in gaining a grasp of the role alterations that are taking place in his own work domain, and comprehend its implications.” --Unnikrishnan K. Nair in Vikalpa The shift from an industrial to a post-industrial society has been documented extensively, as has its impact on the macro-level institutions of society--government, the workplace, and the economy. But how has post-industrial life impacted the individual and relationships between individuals? Hage and Powers examine this intriguing question by linking global changes in work patterns, information flow and knowledge to the practice of everyday life. They conclude that the complexities of society require a different kind of people, those with complex selves and creative minds, capable of confronting the challenges of the forthcoming century. Creativity, flexibility, and emotional astuteness will be the buzzwords of the future, as well as personality traits that will enable people to successfully adapt to the ever-changing swirl of workplace, familial, personal, and leisure roles. Based on the tenets of social theory, the authors present a window into the future and a plan for personal and interpersonal action. Their insights will shed light for social psychologists, social theorists, futurologists, organizational theorists, network analysts, and communication researchers. “It is stimulating to encounter a work of such intellectual audacity that is so solidly buttressed by sound scholarship and respect for evidence. The core argument, which is based heavily on symbolic interactionist theory, has the ring of truth. This is a thoroughly remarkable book--broad in scope, significant in its implications, and, better than any I know, making eminently good sense of the eddying social currents and bewildering social changes that characterize contemporary society. I predict that it will have a major and lasting impact on the field.” --Morris Rosenberg, University of Maryland “This book is one of those rare works that courageously turns established assumptions on their heads and challenges the whole field of sociology to shift directions. It offers a version of functionalism calling for continuous change rather than stability, with functional prerequisites at the individual level. It deplores current sociology's dominant emphasis on power and money, offering in their place the unequal distribution of knowledge as the key organizing principle. Rather than formulating theory primarily at the macro or micro level, it focuses on the meso level, where micro and macro are linked through a unique revision of role theory. Hage and Powers take symbolic interaction as their starting perspective, but modify and extend the work of George Herbert Mead in imaginative ways. At the same time, they draw selectively on the work of structuralists Merton and Nadel to develop a thoughtful linkage between micro- and macro-sociological processes in a social structure in which flexible networks rather than formal organizations are the key components. Post-Industrial Lives could well become the touchstone for broad debate on the nature of sociological theory, and the paradigm that stimulates a widely ranging body of new empirical research.” --Ralph Turner, University of California, Los Angeles “Hage and Powers bring their in-depth sociological analysis of the changes central to post-industrial and post-modern life home--to where we live and work. They succeed in the best sense of the sociological imagination to bridge the micro and macro, the personal and the structural. They not only build a theoretical framework for understanding the changes in society, but encourage us to appreciate that as the old role scripts and hierarchical controls give way to networks of interacting people, we have more independence to fashion our own personal connections to others.” --Barbara Sherman Heyl, Illinois State University “The authors have given a remarkable, coherent theoretical outline of postindustrial society…. This book is written in an extraordinarily clear and understandable scientific prose.” --American Journal of Sociology “Most of the books on post-industrial society, and more recently, on post-modernism are distinguished by their vagueness and imprecision. In contrast, this book examines in detail the effects of increasing societal complexity and change on the structure of roles, and vice versa. The book does a masterful job of utilizing, criticizing, and extending classic and contemporary theoretical literatures in developing a well reasoned conceptual perspective. By focusing on roles, role-sets, status-sets, person-sets, and role-relationships, the authors link changes in the macrostructural forces of modern societies in terms of increased complexity of networks and matrices to meso level changes in organizational forms and to micro level transformations in self, emotions, and styles of interaction. And, all of this fine analytical work is done in a highly readable fashion which realizes the rare goal of appealing to students, practitioners, lay persons, and academics. The authors have, therefore, made the analysis of post-industrial society theoretically sophisticated, while at the same time making it empirically and experientially relevant.” --Jonathan H. Turner, University of California, Riverside
Chapter 6: Analytical Tools for Understanding Role Structures
Analytical Tools for Understanding Role Structures
It is not enough to describe role redefinition as a micro process. We want to place role redefinition within a broader structural context. We are able to do that by drawing from two seminal works from the 1950s. Prominent among the central pillars of modern social theory is the conceptualization of role systems advanced in different contexts by Robert King Merton and Siegfried Frederick Nadel. Merton, in sociology, and Nadel, in anthropology, sought nothing short of explaining how the many roles occupied by a plethora of people are organized into the systems of relations that give society its structural form and organizational coherence. Both Merton and Nadel focused on ways in which roles might ...