Page images

Where industrialism developed in some "natural" sequence, the circle of relations shows considerable correspondence; all three factors changed simultaneously and with at least minimal integration. As stated elsewhere: "it appears possible that each 'stage' of [physical] technological development (together with secular changes in the education of workers and in accumulated industrial traditions) may have got the administrative theory it deserved." 36

However, the correspondence among these three factors-the technology of production, the "state" of the labor force, and managerial ideology-is much less in the newly developing areas of the world. Both physical and social technology is primarily imported, often in the heads of managers, but the labor force comes directly from the existing cultural milieu. Since technology is not likely to stand still, the process of commitment by the labor force cannot be one of "catching up."

A number of intriguing possibilities suggest themselves. If new social and physical technologies develop as a consequence of the "state" of the labor force, these three factors may draw closer to each other as they change. This does not mean that an eventually stable equilibrium will necessarily be achieved, but that an entirely different sequence of change may evolve. (This may represent a more adequate picture of the Japanese experience.) Alternatively, the factors may "pass" each other along the way, maintaining the same low degree of correspondence, but one of a different type. A third alternative is that physical and social technology may continue to reflect, and thus change along with, "Western" technology. In this situation the lack of correspondence between these factors and the labor force would continue to be very great and of the same relative type.

Thus the process of commitment is a permanent one. It is likely to be associated with even severer conflict than that which characterizes the continuing process of commitment to managerial authority in established industrial societies.

36 Moore, “Technological Change and Industrial Organization."


Arnold S. Feldman
Wilbert E. Moore

In this chapter the area of potential labor force commitment is broadened by viewing the work situation in a market context. This context is at least dual: a labor market and a commodity market. Indeed, one could argue in formal terms that a typological sequence would be: labor market involvement, employment, consumption.1 However, market orientations are in some degree integrated and thus appropriately viewed with reference to both employment and exchange of goods. Moreover, meaningful involvement of employees in a labor market is frequently and paradoxically a consequence of their initial employment rather than antecedent to it.8

A market system in the sense used here is more than a system of exchange (which exists in all societies): it rests on a generalized medium of exchange as the link between the specialized producer and the generalized consumer. Only in such a system can the concept of “labor" be operationally defined with any reliability, and only in such a system is the conception of consumer choice and "consumer sovereignty" likely to have any substantial significance." Markets so conceived may differ in respect to two significant variables, extensity and purity, each of which may be subdivided.


The extensity of a market may be considered in terms of both proportions and absolutes: Of the total goods and services produced and consumed in a society, what proportions and which kinds "move

1 For a more detailed breakdown of the most general levels in this sequence, see Talcott Parsons and Neil J. Smelser, Economy and Society (Glencoe: Free Press, 1956), pp. 120-123.

2 Wilbert E. Moore, Industrialization and Labor (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1951), pp. 306–308.

8 Parsons and Smelser, op. cit., pp. 116-117.

♦ See Max Weber, The Theory of Social and Economic Organization (New York: Oxford University Press, 1947), p. 182.

"Wilbert E. Moore, Economy and Society (Garden City: Doubleday & Company, 1955), p. 10.

through the market"? How large are the total amounts of goods and services, both as additive units and as distinguishable entities?

It is a commonplace assumption that economic development involves increases in both the magnitude and variety of products and services, on the one hand, and the proportion of these moving through market channels, on the other. Although tangential to our central concerns here, it is worth noting that the size and proportion of market transactions are theoretically distinguishable. Failure to make the distinction prejudices interpretations of the increasing scale of market-measured production and consumption as a valid index of "welfare" improvement on a total or per capita basis. Acts long performed and even goods long produced may simply have been transferred to new modes of exchange. This changing relative position of the market in a social system has a further significance that is of central importance here. At whatever "stage" of economic development we look, there is a kind of competition between market and nonmarket ways of implementing interdependence. The change from the latter to the former poses the problem of commitment to the market system.

With regard to industrial forms of production, then, one may properly ask about the lower and upper limits of market operations. The empirical lower limit may well be the "company town" where not even local scrip is used, but all transactions are purely bookkeeping entries. (Note, however, that such towns are likely to be part of a broader national market organized on conventional bases.) The upper limit of market operation, if not its violation, may be exhibited by modern industrial societies where almost any "service," including love and loyalty, is partially performed through market transactions. It is a fundamental principle in Marxian economics that an “impersonal” market system-in services and in goods-conceals but does not eliminate considerations of power and other social relationships among participants.7 This is suggestive of issues posed in the overt extension of the market for services to include personal loyalty. In particular, the bureaucratization of employment and the stabilization of employment relations may represent a partial vindication of the Marxian position. The question, however, remains: what are the upper limits to market extension? If

• Karl Polanyi, Conrad Arensberg, and Harry W. Pearson, eds., Trade and Market in the Early Empires: Economics in History and Theory (Glencoe: Free Press, 1957); Moore, Industrialization and Labor, pp. 20-35.

7 Karl Marx, Capital: A Critique of Political Economy (Chicago: Charles H. Kerr and Co., 1909), Vol. 1, pp. 185–196.

the key to the market principle is transferability, the limits of the market would appear to be set by types of interpersonal social relations necessarily characterized by durable and particularistic affectivity. The extension of the market in economic development poses this question persistently, and in every industrialized society. The problems of commitment to a market system may never be completely resolved, if only because this locus of performance and acceptance is not unchanging.

The market for persons as such, as in commercialized slavery, represents another upper limit. This kind of transaction is a form of labor recruitment and utilization that could not produce the range of occupations and skills required for a modernized economy. Slavery, moreover, involves extensive inconsistencies with reference to the norms appropriate to a developing economy, including notably status mobility.8 The major goal of economic development is presumably to increase the number, and possibly the variety, of consumable units. But since the allocation of these units via the market is a principal reward to participants, this also constitutes a major mechanism for effecting commitment. Much has been written concerning the tolerable limits of long-term sacrifices by workers (or, alternatively, the use of nonfinancial and thus nonmarket incentives) in economies attempting to maximize capital or military production. The theories and evidence cannot be reviewed here, but it should be noted that the communist countries, for example, use extensive market organization and even elaborate financial incentives, despite various restrictions on the total production of consumer commodities and even on access to the various markets that operate.

Market extensity also often involves the question of purity. The illustration just used exemplifies one form of impurity, namely, the simultaneous existence of various closed or partially closed markets. Other impurities include rationing, the bureaucratic or political allocation of perquisites not otherwise obtainable regardless of funds; multiprice systems (by class of buyer); and all sorts of restrictions on transfer and use, based on public or private policy. They shade into other impurities that constitute violations of the norms necessary for the ideal conception of a free market—that is, impersonality, ethical universalism, functional specificity, contractual equality, etc. Preindustrial exchange systems are impure in precisely these ways; they are often one aspect of complex patterns of interaction, an aspect that is 8 Weber, op. cit., pp. 276–277.

perhaps analytically distinguishable but not concretely distinct. The relevant commitment problem, therefore, is again the acceptance and performance of new modes of interdependence at the cost of violating long-standing expectations.

Market purity may be asymmetrical, as in the cases of the "loyal" employee of an "irresponsible" or "hard boiled" employer, and the loyal patron of an indifferent producer or distributor. Reversed relations are at least theoretically possible, as in tenure arrangements binding on the employer but not the employee. Such asymmetrical relations may be actively encouraged by those who benefit, e.g., through the organization of training courses to teach the manipulation of pseudofriendship. The point of more general significance, however, is that the institutional structure of the pure market is always somewhat fragile and subject to the "intrusion" of other norms. If the process of economic development may be viewed as involving the purification as well as the extension of markets, it does not follow that "conservative reactions" may not take place. They may be inevitable precisely because every proportional or relative extension of the market provides new challenges to previously accepted norms of conduct.

Although the model of the market implicit in much of the foregoing discussion has been the impersonal buying and selling of consumer goods, the market system is also applicable to capital transfers and the contractual provision of services-the labor market. That market is the one most intimately related to labor force commitment.


A key feature of modern economic development is the establishment of a market system for allocating and rewarding activities, which thereby become "labor" in a technical sense.10 This process thus involves not only the transfer of activities and their performers into a market context, but also the potential transfer of activities within that context. An industrial system involves a wide range of appropriate activities, many of which are novel in an underdeveloped area, and most of which are novel in their particular combinations into specific occupations.11 A labor market functions to provide both the mechanism

Parsons and Smelser, op. cit., p. 140.

10 Wilbert E. Moore, "The Exportability of the 'Labor Force' Concept," American Sociological Review, 18:72 (February 1953).

11 Bert F. Hoselitz, "The Recruitment of White-Collar Workers in Underdeveloped Countries," International Social Science Bulletin, 6:3-11 (December 1954).

« PreviousContinue »