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Contradictions at work: a critical review

McGovern, Patrick ORCID: 0000-0003-3984-2080 (2014) Contradictions at work: a critical review. Sociology, 48 (1). 20 - 37. ISSN 0038-0385

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Identification Number: 10.1177/0038038512467711


Despite significant achievements in empirical research, considerable unease exists about the lack of conceptual and theoretical debate within the sociology of work. One potentially significant problem is the uncritical use of concepts that have their origins in Marxism and purport to explain the essential features of the employment relationship. Using evidence from a systematic review of four highly ranked British journals I chart the growing influence of the concept of contradiction, notably within the labour process perspective where it has become a key concept, especially in relation to the problem of labour control. In spite of its popularity, I argue that the concept contains two sets of flaws. The first set, which relate to its utility as a concept, include problems of logic, differentiation and operationalization. The second set relate to the substantive use of the concept, especially its dependence on supporting assumptions, and its expectation of social change. The article concludes by calling for a moratorium on further usage.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2014 BSA Publications Ltd.
Divisions: Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HD Industries. Land use. Labor
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Date Deposited: 26 Apr 2013 15:48
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:46

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