A Sociological Theory of Industrial Accidents

  • Tom Dwyer
Part of the Plenum Studies in Work and Industry book series (SSWI)


The heart of this chapter is an attempt to follow Hale and Hale’s demand and build a new theory of industrial accidents. To do this, it has been necessary to “reassemble” the sociology of work in such a way that it can be used to understand a series of analytically separate, yet empirically interlinked, social relations in the workplace. The new comprehension is formulated to be sufficiently abstract to lend itself to the analysis of the production of a variety of errors within organizations. Subsequent to this formulation, a specific treatment of accidents takes place.’The theory conceptualizes that peoples’ relationships to their work are managed through social relations of work and that these exist at three levels in the firm—rewards, command, and organization—as well as a nonsocial individual member level. Accidents, which are taken to be a specific case of organizationally produced error, are seen to be produced through the functioning of these levels. Both the accident literature and personal field research are mustered to provide empirical backing for the theory developed. Through the evidence gathered, and through deduction from the theory, a series of hypotheses pertaining to work accidents are constructed, social relation by social relation. Subsequent to detailed discussion of the theory, some general and more abstract hypotheses are made that will guide empirical research. Such is the scope of the main body of the chapter.


Social Relation Organizational Member International Labour Organisation Sociological Theory Accident Rate 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tom Dwyer
    • 1
  1. 1.Universidade Estadual de CampinasSão PauloBrazil

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