Men in the meat industry : instrumentalism in work, class and community
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis examines the attitudes, perceptions and behaviour of 178 freezing workers at two works, one in Wanganui and the other in Christchurch, by reference to four areas. The world of work, the pattern of sociability, political attitudes and behaviour, and images of the class structure and of inequality are examined on the basis of a set of research expectations generated by an expanded ideal 'type' of the instrumental worker. The theme of instrumentalism serves as an integrating focus for the thesis and is adopted, firstly because of its proven utility in the context of previous industrial research, and secondly, because the ideal type in part reflects the stereotypical image that the industry and the freezing workers have acquired. The industry is briefly examined in the light of available historical and statistical data, and developments in the field of industrial sociology leading to the formulation of 'action' approaches are critically reviewed. On the basis of a discussion of research findings, it is argued that the instrumental type has a limited utility in studying freezing workers' attitudes and behaviour. In their attitudes to certain aspects of their jobs and employment, to their unions and to their firms, freezing workers manifest other than instrumental attitudes and behaviour. The mode of sociability is not a privatised one, and work and non-work are linked by both kinship and social networks. Political attitudes are characterised by high levels of support for the Labour Party, but apparently low levels of ideological commitment. Images of the class structure tend to approximate a pecuniary model with an absence of dichotomous or power models. It is concluded that, while in certain respects the instrumental ideal type has some utility in examining the attitudes and behaviour of men who work in the meat industry, aspects of both the work and community situations of those interviewed, and attitudes and perceptions that are of wider reference, call into question the assumption that instrumentalism is an all-embracing phenomenon.