Sociology | Organization in Society
S302 | 4014 | Garnier
Imagine an activity you have engaged in over the last two days. Did
this activity involve an organization?
It probably did. Whether you went to church, participated in
intercollegiate athletics, shopped in a grocery store, watched the
news on television, or bought beer at the liquor store, your activity
involved organizations. This class is also part of a very large
If it were not for organizations, our cars would not be
licensed, criminals would run free, taxes would not be collected,
your grandparents would not receive their social security checks, the
nationís defense would be impossible and so would the administration
of justice. Many organizations, however, are very powerful and
cannot easily be controlled.
Because we work, consume and play within organizations, it is
essential to understand them. That is the role of theory.
Sociologists have developed frameworks that contribute to our
understanding of organizations. The insights and evidence these
researchers have developed have been used to elaborate management
practices (see In Search of Excellence, for example) that have
influenced the running of many types of organizations.
Most of us are interested in organizations for practical
reasons as well as for theoretical ones (how should citizens control
public organizations, for example). As future professionals, most of
you will play a key role, sometimes the leading role, in many kinds
of organizations. What you learn in this class will be relevant to
your activities as organizational leaders and participants.
Discussions in class, and the paper project, will sharpen your skills
as organizational practitioners.
The course will thus involve activities, theoretical
understanding, and practical applications.
ORGANIZATION OF THE COURSE
Because each of you comes to class with considerable
knowledge of organizations, you are expected to share that
knowledge. I cannot possibly be familiar with every type of
organization and, therefore, you should share what you know with your
classmates. Some of the best examples I use to illustrate arguments
have been contributed by students in previous classes.
Lectures will be devoted to the presentation of theoretical
frameworks and their illustration with many examples (of different
kinds of organizational structure, of centralization, of power
etc.). These examples will be exposed to relevant studies not
discussed in the textbook.