Social dynamics of labour relations in rural and urban industry : a sociological perspective of South African industry.
From a review of sociological theory, and the main features of the South African labour environment, the enquiry was designed to identify pressures for change amongst South African industrial workers. Research involved 554 workers in five industrial situations, ranging from that peripheral to 'black homeland' areas to that of settled urban workers in metropolitan Durban, and 43 managers and supervisors. Factor analysis of data revealed three themes (the 'social dynamics' ) in terms of which workers responded consistently. The first was the causative integration dynamic, the second the responsive dynamic of orientation to change. The interaction of these dynamics defines the nature of internal labour relations. Successful management of these dynamics demanded effective conmunication and involvement. The third theme was identified as the adherence dynamic, representing extrinsic pressures or responsibilities compelling workers to find employment, and inhibiting or regulating their freedom of egress. The external environment is beyond the control of management, and is influenced by both government policy and general economic conditions. Conclusions are that historic restrictions on labour mobility and residence in South Africa have contributed significantly to conditions hindering achievement of South Africa's full growth potential. Growth impediment arises from accumulation of workers in work situations not of their choice, from which they cannot easily escape, and in which they become increasingly uncommitted and alienated. This contributes to gradual development of potential conflict which, considered generally assumes the character of that based on social divisions of class and race. However it also explains, through the example of South African industry, how it is possible for societies to function over long periods of time when significant levels of internal conflict and opposition remain within the bounds of equilibrium. Capitalism in South Africa is seen in the context of an interdependent spiral of gradual economic decline and rising political discontent. Essential steps in its reversal would include removal of all restrictions on personal freedom of movement, and urgent integrative management strategies. South African industry is compared with American and Japanese industry in the social dynamics context. The study draws independent support from, and lends support to theory evolved in United States industry from work done particularly by Hirschman (Hirschman, A.O., 1970), and Sayles (Sayles, L.R., 1958).