The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XXI, No. 1 (June 1960). A P P L...
The Indian Journal of Social Work, Vol. XXI, No. 1 (June 1960).
A P P L I E D S O C I A L S C I E N C E S I N I N D U S T R Y
V I J A I K U M A R K O G H A R
The author in the following lines points out that basic social research in the fields
directly related to industry has to be conducted before it could be applied to industry. T h e
author refers to Richardson's comprehensive Survey of recent work in the field and indicates
broadly some important specific topics of research.
Mr. Kochar is Research Officer attached to the Department of Anthropology,
University of Lucknow.
Application of any branch of scientific place or are too particular pertaining to a
knowledge for some practical end awaits definite situations only—both of which
initiative, foresight and risk-taking; more so render them inapplicable for direct practical
in social sciences. T h e promise of return end to any considerable extent.
a n d t h e utility value of applied research is
Need for Basic Research and Experiment-
not readily perceived and, therefore, does ation.
—Much basic research, therefore, is
not attract attention. Social scientists, needed along directed lines before the
therefore, a r e obliged to take the responsi-
results of social sciences can be directly
bility of demonstrating the sale value of applied with some profit. This is why much
social researches and have to haggle in order basic social research in the fields directly
to m a k e it acceptable.
related to industry has to be conducted
before it can be actually 'applied' to t h e
T h e o r y and methods in social sciences by industry as given means to given ends.
which we mean sociology, social psychology example of this approach is that even with
and social anthropology, do not offer such precedence of 25 years of social research in
ready-made formulas and prescriptions industry in America, Chappie writes: " . . . . if
which are possible in n a t u r a l sciences 'applied anthropology' is taken to mean the
because of imponderable and multiple com-
of change into an
plexity of h u m a n factors involved. T h e industrial situation—the greatest amount of
empirical methods of mechanical observa-
research done in this field is not "applied" in
tion, controlled experimentation, precise this sense; it has been primarily concerned
measurement u n d e r 'known' and 'defined' with understanding the process of change
condition are not possible in social sciences. one particular type of social institution".
H u m a n beings can neither be controlled and
experimented upon nor h u m a n factors can
Before any change is contemplated in the
be measured precisely and be fully "known" social process of any institution, thorough
a n d "defined". In social sciences only understanding of the institution and the
approximations to this method can be process are necessary requisites. Basic
reached. This makes the problem of appli-
research provides this understanding. It
cation of social sciences more difficult. T h e gives formulas which can be readily cashed.
results of social sciences are either too Such research is only exploratory and
abstract and generalized to appear common-
1 E . D. Chappie , "Applied Anthropology in Industry " in A. L. Kroeber, edts. Anthropology
Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1953, pp. 819-831.
V I J A I K U M A R K O C H A R
In suitable field situations action can be
3. Lack of genuine interest in the well-
combined with research to preview the
being of the workers and healthy
context of application. Action-research
social atmosphere in the factory.
projects are a very useful tool in social
4. Lack of interest in the minor stress
sciences which makes possible guarded and
and strains in t h e life of workers
phased introduction of changes in social
inside or outside factories which affect
situations. A brilliant example of this is the
their mental health.
E t a w a action-research project of Mayer and
5. Managements' disinterest in anything
associates where the scheme of community
which is not directly
development was evolved through social
increase of profits or production.
research, experimentation, and evaluation.2
This project has since then become guide-
6. Lack of enterprise in this direction.
post of Community Development Projects all
In fact, we do not have in India sub-
over India. In the field of industry out-
stantial literature on social research work
standing experiments were conducted by done in the field of industry. Any attempt
M a y o and associates at H a w t h o r n e Works, to begin, therefore, is bound to be modest
U.S.A., where he for the first time experi-
mentally demonstrated the importance of
h u m a n relation factors in productivity in a
Factory as a Social Unit.
factory and also devised means of improving tions and mental health in the industrial
h u m a n relations in factory to this end.3 circles is a pressing problem of modern age
This gave impetus to a series of studies along of progressive industrialization. Mayo rightly
similar lines in the U.S.A.
entitled his study of h u m a n relations in a
factory as " T h e H u m a n Problems of an
Problem of Basic Research in Industry in
Industrial Civilization". In underdeveloped
—The main problems in the way of countries like India, where industrialization is
basic social research in the field of industry impinging a two-fold impact upon urban and
in India is the lack of interest and enter-
rural population, it is a burning problem of
prise owners and management among for the day to which the social scientists and
sponsoring and financing research projects.
It is also due to inability, or rather indif-
others will have to turn their attention sooner
factory and also devised means of improving or later. Mental health aspects of industriali-
their skills; to make management interested zation, especially with reference to labour
in the utility and value of such research. from rural and tribal areas have attracted
T h e indifference of management may be some attention.4 M e a d has shown how closely
attributed to the following reasons:
this aspect is related to social, cultural and
psychological aspects of workers' life.
1. Lack of adequate knowledge as to
the possibility of application of social
Factories not only produce goods but also
sciences in solving human-problems produce a social system, a culture. W h a t
and improving production.
happens to workers in and outside fac-
2. Their interest in some immediate tory affects the whole culture group from
cure or penacea for an urgent malady which the worker comes and at the same time
what relationships develop in a factory
2A. Mayer and Associates, Pilot Project India,
University of California Press, N. Y. 1958.
3E. Mayo The Human Problems of an Industrial Civilization,
New York: The Macmillan
4M, Mead, Ed. Culture Patterns and Technical Change,
APPLIED SOCIAL SCIENCES IN INDUSTRY
depends upon the culture-group to which etc., through directors, secretaries, depart-
workers belong.5 To understand the problems mental heads, advisers, etc. Flow of directives
of workers in factory one must under-
and authority is in a defined channel. In this
stand worker in situ. Factory is not merely set up, the role and status of every individual
a work-place, it is a way of life; it has a social member of management is well defined and
organization, it has conventions, mores and fairly obvious to the factory personnel. The
fashions; it has a socio-political hierarchy. The main interest of the management is adminis-
work and routine in a factory, like a com-
tration and regulation of work in the factory
munity, foster a social hierarchy, a value at all levels—the criteria being maximum
pattern, a world-view, a personality type to production and smooth running with mini-
which the workers continually strive to adjust mum waste and delay.
or react. Factory has a social organization
Workers are brought into this set up for
and every social organization has a culture. the purpose of production and other neces-
No true welfare work, therefore, can be sary services. The circle of workers also has
planned to ensure the proper social and mental a definite hierarchy of seniors, skilled, un-
health without adequate understanding of skilled, menial, etc., some of whom are the
this social system. Gorky's Mother
is a part of the management like gatekeepers,
literary evidence of this phenomenon.
timekeepers, sentries and orderlies. Various
Factories are institutions of the modern operational cycles in production work are per-
civilization. An institution as a whole has formed by the workers either individually
casual, operational, functional and effective or in groups. The interaction of each worker
relation to other dimensions of complex cul-
vis-a-vis other works and the management has
ture of which it is but a part. The owner a definite pattern which allows but little devia-
and management of industries are guided by tion. The role and status of each are also
the considerations which emerge from the broadly 'given' in a definite work situation.
total set up of national economy in socio-poli-
There are often leaders of work groups nomi-
tical framework. Therefore, understanding of
nated or chosen. There are intermediary
industry as an institution involves both micro-
roles which though workers form a part of the
cosmic analysis and macrocosmic analysis out-
management (like peons, sentries, timekeepers
and gatekeepers, etc.). The main interest of
the worker is in the payment he receives in
Social Structure of the Factory.
—Various return for his labour.
types of persons are brought into direct and
indirect relation to one another in a factory.
This contract system between worker and
Management and workers are the two broad management is shown below. The main cri-
circles. Interaction and communication teria of measuring the suitability, are the
among various persons in factory take place wages of the worker and the output for the
within a defined framework of management-
management. All other criteria are only
worker organization. There is a definite hier-
secondary. Management, however, is always
archy of management from investing or in a position to dictate the terms of suitability.
owning authority (individual, company or It may also be mentioned that this contract
State) to foreman and workshop-incharge, is not always entirely voluntary. Social
6F. L. W. Richardson, "Anthropology and Huma n Relations in Business and Industry " in
Yearbook of Anthropology,
New York: Wenner Gren Foundation, 1955, p. 401.
VlJAI KUMAR KOCHAR
pressure due to scarcity, demand increase or
d. Social security and welfare: to
unemployment may induce either of them,
worker and his family and kins;
generally workers, to accept even a non-equi-
basic amenities and living conditions.
e. Job security: against retrenchment,
dismissal, closures and lockouts,
turnover system and security against
invalidation, old age, etc.
f. Group-security: trade unionism,
collective bargaining, representation
rights, right to depute spokesmen
and arbitrators; right to protest, call
strike, go-slow, etc.
Variables involved in this interaction situa-
tion are mentioned below in outline:
g. Social adjustment: worker's family,
relatives; caste and class sentiments;
1. Organization of factory: hierarchy,
operational cycles of different roles of
factory personnel, interpersonal, mode
Human Relations in Factory.
of conduct in factory personnel; autho-
four distinct levels of interaction and com-
rity and leadership.
munication involved in the activities of fac-
2. Management's criteria of suitability and
a. Management vs. management.
b. Worker vs. management and vice versa
a. Agreement at dictated terms of work
c. Worker vs. worker.
(wage, payment system, leave, dis-
d. Worker vs. non-worker and non fac-
b. Skill, efficiency and output (also
These interaction patterns are evidenced in
the various behaviour situations inside and
c. Role adjustment of worker in factory outside the factory. Each situation involves
organization vis-a-vis other workers a set of overt and covert behaviour series—
the latter is of great diagnostic value though
d. Co-operation and non-alignment difficult to investigate and measure accurate-
against management (such . as ly. Here (d) is of special importance in defi-
ning the social context of workers.
3. Worker's criteria of suitability and satis-
Communications-interaction patterns at
all the above mentioned levels in a
factory give the basic material upon which
a. Wage satisfaction rate, payment pattern of human relation in factory
system, bonus, overtime-payment, has to be constructed. The social cohe-
sion and social distance between various
b. Job satisfaction: type of work, leave, groups—in work or non-work situations
role, physical mobility, risk, etc.
—can also be measured by suitable tests
c. Status satisfaction: in and outside and observations. When any problem of
factory in the role of worker.
maladjustment and outburst, irregularity
APPLIED SOCIAL SCIENCES IN INDUSTRY
occur at any level, the diagnostic investiga-
have proved helpful. There is a whole branch
tion can be directed within this well-defined of social psychological dealing with such
frame. It is, however, not correct to assume problems of selection for occupational
that main "problem" field of human relations situations.
in factory is between the workers and manage-
—Importance and rele-
ment only. There may be a danger to indus-
vancy of these facts is not brought home until
trial peace due to conflict between the fac-
one analyses industrial unrest. Despite the
tions in worker's circle or due to factions in magnitude of this problem in Indian indus-
the management circle. In India, where the tries and the despite the management's imme-
real political leadership of trade unions diate concern with the unrest situations, little
is often in the hands of non-factory personnel detailed diagnostic analysis of industrial dis-
(political leaders), the disputes may originate putes has been made. The apparent causes
at the level of communication between wor-
of such disputes generally mentioned are (i)
kers and non-workers exclusive to manage-
pay, (ii) bonus, (iii) personnel, (iv) leave
and (v) others. It is reported elsewhere that
percentage of disputes during the year 1940-
Cycle of production activities which a wor-
1948 due to wages is about 41 per cent
ker performs in the factory involves physical and due to personnel causes is 17 per
and social interaction with co-workers and cent.7 Besides, the problem of strikes
management. The quality of interpersonal and go-slow strikes are problems of
relation between the interacting individuals absenteeism, turnover and dismissal, lock-outs
in a work group affects the efficiency of and closures. We do not know under what
workers. It has been demonstrated by a num-
conditions of interpersonal relations these
ber of experiments in America and England; strikes and disputes take place. We do not
that more "informal", "natural" or congenial have evidence whether no other factor except
atmosphere in the interaction of work groups wages is explicitly or simplicitly associated
and management in a factory improves the with these disputes. My apprehension is that
output. It acts as a socio-psychic incentive the feeling of economic insecurity and fear of
to worker. Worker assumes a status, confi-
unemployment are the main reasons why the
dence and mental security which in turn workers are at the tip of their nerves to burst
affects his productive rate.
into a unified dispute. There can be, how-
ever, no question of amicable human relations
It has often been difficult to co-ordinate a between workers and management where the
number of workers in a work-group to per-
wages and living conditions are inhumanly
form interdependent operational activities. low. Therefore, wages, welfare and social
The interpersonal adjustment among the security are the basic minimum for creating
group members and between the workers and amicable social relations between workers and
group leader affects the rate of the work. A the management and for arriving at solutions
more friendly group with a mutually recog-
of disputes. When the price indices shoot up,
nized leader turns out more than others.
when the owners reap higher profits, can it be
Selection of adequate personnel for definite expected that workers can be placable with
occupations is a task in which social scientists the same or even lower wages?
7R. N. Saxena, "Labour Tensions in India," Indian J. of Soc. Work,
Vol. XV. No. 1 (1954),
VIJAl KUMAR KOCHAR
The diagnostic case studies of these
3. Sociology of groups at work.
disputes not merely in terms of wages, profits
4. Adjustment of worker to instruments
and manhours, etc, but also in terms
of communication between workers and
5. Communication pattern in a factory.
management, in terms of interpersonal rela-
tions between them; in terms of views,
a. normal routine
opinions, incidents, and in terms of cycle of
events should be conducted. This can, to a
6. Problems of changes in routine,
great extent, help reconciliation between
management relations, or administra-
parties at dispute. After all, reconciliation,
mediation and negotiation are forms of
7. Management-worker relationship.
communication. Life of workers during and
8. Recruitment of workers—attitude and
after the disputes is also relevant. Such
disputes bring forth salient features of social
9. Leadership in workers of a factory:
Some Lines of Social-science Research in
b. non-work groups
Richardson, after making comprehensive
10. Socio-cultural life of workers in situ.
survey of recent work in the field, isolates
11. Production increase devices by change
research which has attracted most attention.
in working conditions, living conditions,
"The four topics of long standing interest are
and social relations.
studies and discussions of (1) Small Work
12. Case studies of strikes and disputes.
Groups; (2) Committees and Conferences;
(3) Individuals in Organization; and 13. Training and orientation of manage-
(4) Face to Face Communication. The four
ment circle for understanding problems
new topics discussed are (5) Social System
of human relations in factory.
in relation to Technical System; (6) Labour
14. Socio-graphic analysis of roles in a
Unions (as Organizations); (7) Organiza-
factory, such as foreman, welfare
tions and their overall Functioning and
finally, miscellaneous topics are mentioned
15. Opinion attitude polls on changes and
briefly, such as problems of consulting, pro-
blems in establishing rapport and cultural
and class differences among employees".
16. Rehabilitation of migrated families of
Some important specific topics of research
17. Effect of migration of workers from
are given below to give an idea of the kind of
rural and tribal areas on their family
work that can be done in this area. Most
of these are topics of actual studies conducted.
18. Co-operation and conflict among the
1. Social organization of the factory:
workers of factory.
2. Working conditions in the factory:
19. Trade-Union and political activities of
20. Interaction pattern in a work group.
Richardson, op. cit.,
APPLIED SOCIAL SCIENCES INDUSTRY
2l. Time-budgets and flow charts of opera-
24. Case studies of absenteeism, turn-over,
22. Social distance among the various 25. Socio-psychological factors in produc-
23. Attitude of workers towards routine
26. Daily living of a worker and his family.
work, leisure, interval, overtime, accu-
(routine and household budget, etc.)
mulation of money, group tasks, 27. Factory as an institution in contem-
physical mobility, etc.
VIJAI KUMAR KOCHAR