Welcome to Scribd, the world's digital library. Read, publish, and share books and documents. See more
Download
Standard view
Full view
of .
Look up keyword or section
Like this
0Activity
P. 1
Corporate Power and the Market: Automotve Performance and the Automobie Industry

Corporate Power and the Market: Automotve Performance and the Automobie Industry

Ratings: (0)|Views: 8|Likes:
Published by Alan Listiak
This dissertation is an examination of the sociological debate over
the nature of corporate power and the market for consumer goods in modern society.
Two sociological theoretical positions, the pluralist/functionalist and the
elite/class, are compared and contrasted with respect to this issue. They are
then critically tested by applying them to the automobile industry and the
development of the meanings and physical shape of the automobile, in particular,
the controversial meanings and designs associated with those non-transportation
themes subsumed under the notion of "performance."
In comparing and contrasting the pluralist/ functionalist and the elite/
class theories, three basic conceptual areas must be examined: (1) the nature
of power and its exercise; (2) the nature of corporate behaviour; and (3) the
nature of the market and consumption in modern society. The pluralist/functionalist
position depticts corporate power as well socialized and externally controlled
whereas the elite/class position depicts a corporate elite/ruling corporate
class able to control the political arena and the market. Empirical research has
done little to resolve this debate. It: is suggested that part of this loggerhead
is due to the inadequate conception of power which underlies these positions.
This conception is individualistic and limited in Its scope. This is particularly
problematic for the elite/class perspective because much of what it describes as
corporate power is not consistent with this basic concept. A more sociological conception of power is proposed to comprehend this description based upon the
works of Steven Lukes, Tom Baumgartner et al., and Bernd Baldus. Termed the
meta-power view it conceives of power as the exercise of relational control,
that is, the ability to structure social relationships in an interaction system
by manipulating action possibilities, reward structures, and orientations. This
conception is applicable, to the collective actions of organizations and institutions.
A number of power strategies are discussed and special attention given to the
strategy of the incorporation of complementary bahaviour patterns.
Corporate bahaviour is conceptualized in terrns of the model of organizations
in action developed by James Thompson. Both theoretical positions are
applied to this model and the respectives views, of corporate behaviour in the
market discussed. Both positions are also examined regarding their similar
views of the market as a major social location for the expression of individual
freedom, creativity, status, etc. Their differences with respect to the role of
culture in determining human needs and their expression, and rhe role of
advertising are discussed.
The two positions are applied to the American automobile industry and
the development of the automobile. Hypotheses are derived from each predicting
the nature of the interaction between automobile manufacturers and consumers with
respect to the determination of automotive design and meaning. These were tested
using secondary sources: The meta-power view was supported. It was found that
manufacturers exercised relational control over the market by selectively emphasizing
and developing automotive designs and meanings which measured high in
the dimensions of exclusiveness, machismo, styling, ergonomics and reputation.
Other dimensions such as safety, technology, economy, functional!sm, and durability
were measured low in emphasis and development. The dimension of machismo which contains the themes of power, performance, speed, masculinity has proven to be a particularly problematic automotive dimension. These performance themes have been the subject of increasing public concern and criticism, particularly since
World War II. Parallel with this criticism has developed a subculture known
as hot rodding which utilizes the automobile as a physical and symbolic resource
to express performance and machismo value
This dissertation is an examination of the sociological debate over
the nature of corporate power and the market for consumer goods in modern society.
Two sociological theoretical positions, the pluralist/functionalist and the
elite/class, are compared and contrasted with respect to this issue. They are
then critically tested by applying them to the automobile industry and the
development of the meanings and physical shape of the automobile, in particular,
the controversial meanings and designs associated with those non-transportation
themes subsumed under the notion of "performance."
In comparing and contrasting the pluralist/ functionalist and the elite/
class theories, three basic conceptual areas must be examined: (1) the nature
of power and its exercise; (2) the nature of corporate behaviour; and (3) the
nature of the market and consumption in modern society. The pluralist/functionalist
position depticts corporate power as well socialized and externally controlled
whereas the elite/class position depicts a corporate elite/ruling corporate
class able to control the political arena and the market. Empirical research has
done little to resolve this debate. It: is suggested that part of this loggerhead
is due to the inadequate conception of power which underlies these positions.
This conception is individualistic and limited in Its scope. This is particularly
problematic for the elite/class perspective because much of what it describes as
corporate power is not consistent with this basic concept. A more sociological conception of power is proposed to comprehend this description based upon the
works of Steven Lukes, Tom Baumgartner et al., and Bernd Baldus. Termed the
meta-power view it conceives of power as the exercise of relational control,
that is, the ability to structure social relationships in an interaction system
by manipulating action possibilities, reward structures, and orientations. This
conception is applicable, to the collective actions of organizations and institutions.
A number of power strategies are discussed and special attention given to the
strategy of the incorporation of complementary bahaviour patterns.
Corporate bahaviour is conceptualized in terrns of the model of organizations
in action developed by James Thompson. Both theoretical positions are
applied to this model and the respectives views, of corporate behaviour in the
market discussed. Both positions are also examined regarding their similar
views of the market as a major social location for the expression of individual
freedom, creativity, status, etc. Their differences with respect to the role of
culture in determining human needs and their expression, and rhe role of
advertising are discussed.
The two positions are applied to the American automobile industry and
the development of the automobile. Hypotheses are derived from each predicting
the nature of the interaction between automobile manufacturers and consumers with
respect to the determination of automotive design and meaning. These were tested
using secondary sources: The meta-power view was supported. It was found that
manufacturers exercised relational control over the market by selectively emphasizing
and developing automotive designs and meanings which measured high in
the dimensions of exclusiveness, machismo, styling, ergonomics and reputation.
Other dimensions such as safety, technology, economy, functional!sm, and durability
were measured low in emphasis and development. The dimension of machismo which contains the themes of power, performance, speed, masculinity has proven to be a particularly problematic automotive dimension. These performance themes have been the subject of increasing public concern and criticism, particularly since
World War II. Parallel with this criticism has developed a subculture known
as hot rodding which utilizes the automobile as a physical and symbolic resource
to express performance and machismo value

More info:

Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Alan Listiak on Mar 11, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

Availability:

Read on Scribd mobile: iPhone, iPad and Android.
download as PDF, TXT or read online from Scribd
See more
See less

03/11/2013

pdf

text

original

 
CORPORATE POWER AND THE MARKETAUTOMOTIVE PERFORMANCE AND THEAUTOMOBILE INDUSTRYbyALAN LISTIAKA Thesis submitted in conformity with the requirementsfor the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy in theUniversity of TorontoALAN LISTIAK, 1981
 
UNIVERSITY OF TORONTOSCHOOL OF GRADUATE STUDIESPROGRAM OF THE FINAL ORAL EXAMINATIONFOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
OF
ALAN M. LISTIAK10:00 a.m., Friday, December 12, 1980Room 111, 63 St. George StreetCORPORATE POWER AND THE MARKET:AUTOMOTIVE PERFORMANCE AND THE AUTOMOBILE INDUSTRYCommittee in Charge:Professor D. Hunt, ChairmanProfessor B. BaldusProfessor U. FranklinProfessor R. Gillis, Internal AppraiserProfessor R. MacKayProfessor R. Ossenberg, External ExaminerProfessor J.G. ReitzProfessor A.T. Turk, SupervisorProfessor W. Van der Berg
 
CORPORATE POWER AND THE MARKET:AUTOMOTIVE PERFORMANCE AND THEAUTOMOBILE INDUSTRY
BY
ALAN LISTJAKThis dissertation is an examination of the sociological debate overthe nature of corporate power and the market for consumer goods in modern society.Two sociological theoretical positions, the pluralist/functionalist and the
elite/class,
are compared and contrasted with respect to this issue. They arethen critically tested by applying them to the automobile industry and thedevelopment of the meanings and physical shape of the automobile, in particular,the controversial meanings and designs associated with those non-transportationthemes subsumed under the notion of "performance."In comparing and contrasting Che plural
ist/
functiona
1 is t
and the elite/class theories three basic conceptual areas must be examined: (.1) the natureof power and its exercise; (2) the nature of corporate behaviour; and (3) the 'nature of the. market and consumption in modern society. The pluralist/function-alist position depticts corporate power as well socialized and externally controlledwhereas the elite/class position depicts a corporate elite/ruling corporateclass able to control the political arena and the market. Empirical research hasdone little to resolve this debate. It: is suggested that part of this loggerheadis due to the inadequate conception of power which underlies these positions.This conception is individualistic and limited in Its scope. This is particularlyproblematic for the elite/class perspective because much of what it describes as
i
corporate power is not consistent with this basic concept„ A more sociological

You're Reading a Free Preview

Download
scribd
/*********** DO NOT ALTER ANYTHING BELOW THIS LINE ! ************/ var s_code=s.t();if(s_code)document.write(s_code)//-->