The Sociology of Australian Business 1970-2005: Blending Class Theory and Empirical Research
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A sociology of business needs to work with sufficient detail to capture the actual (lived) differentiations within the world of business but state its findings at sufficient level of generality to have theoretical interest. Bob Connell's Ruling Class, Ruling Culture (RCRC) was a model of such an exercise. This paper takes RCRC as an initial exposition of the sociology of business in Australia and the position of business in the system of social and political power. The paper examines RCRC in terms of its approach to two perennial issues for a sociology of business: its blend of objective and subjective traditions of class analysis to create a meaningful narrative of class history and, secondly, its use of Gramscian concepts of hegemony to place the professional, media and 'middle class' into a Marxist framework of class conflict. The paper then considers Leslie Sklair's recent theorisation of the 'transnational capitalist class' and the extended account of Australian globalisation it contains. The paper suggests that Sklair's theory is a compatible extension of certain aspects of the theory of RCRC. The paper argues, however, that Sklair's account of the sociology of Australian business fails to adequately consider the findings of power structure research in Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. The paper looks at how this task is foreshadowed in RCRC and provides some suggestions for blending these empirical matters into a theoretical account of the sociology of Australian business in the last three decades.
TASA 2004 Conference Proceedings: Revisioning Institutions: Change in the 21st Century
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