Whatever Happened to the Sociology of Organizations?

Panels and Plenary
Sociology Of Education

The study of modern organizations, their purpose, their structures, and the varied

ways they (intentionally and unintentionally) distribute power among people, used to make up an important branch of sociology. Marx, Weber, and Michels, Durkheim, Blau, Scott, the Chicago School, Etzioni and Kanter, were all at one time concerned with describing and analyzing modern organizations from a sociological perspective. But no one reads Michels or Blau anymore, and Scott and Kanter spent their careers in (admittedly more lucrative) business schools.


Today, “organizational studies” is a field pursued mostly by students of administration and management. Sociologists, for their part, continue to draw links between organizations (as per systems researchers), and explore institutions (like the various schools of institutionalism), but organizations themselves are not the focus of study. The result is that sociology has been illprepared to respond to the organizational crises that are on-going in higher education, the state, and the global economy among other places.


This panel will feature five sociologists speaking to this point, including:

Scott Davies, CRC in Data, Equity, and Policy in Education, OISE/UofT Sociology

Organizational Sociology from the perspective of Business

Organizational Sociology from the perspective of Politics/Political Sociology

Organizational Sociology from a Canadian perspective

Organizer: Karen Stanbridge, Memorial University