Three largely separate literatures—on organizations, on professions, and on manual and clerical work settings—have treated the social control of work. From these writings we identify five modes of control over work: simple, technical, bureaucratic, occupational, and worker self-control. We discuss findings on conditions that underlie the occurrence of different controls. Contingency and resource dependence organization theories help explain the degree of bureaucratic control and the power of work groups within organizations. Literature on occupations and work groups suggests four categories of variables related to modes of control. These pertain to () the nature of tasks, particularly their degree of uncertainty, () relations between segments of occupation, () how an occupation fits into a division of labor, and () relations of an occupation to elements of its environment such as clients, markets, or government. Findings on professionals and those on lower-status workers are often similar although stated differently. Some findings of the sociology of work are subsumable under theories about organizations.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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