In Chapter 1 we saw that the early social scientists were concerned to explain the range of social and economic changes that occurred with the development of industrialisation and the transformation of production. At the end of the twentieth century it is taken for granted that work is a major social activity and that it is supported by a range of organisational structures. In this chapter we shall pursue the main themes of this book by focusing on the social construction of work and the conflicting, contradictory and complex meanings of this seemingly ordinary activity. In doing so we shall draw on the concepts of major social theorists, including Marx, Weber and Durkheim, who all saw work as being central to social life.
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