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Article
Publication date: 1 January 1996

Richard Stivers

Surely the absence of a sociology of morality has to be one of the major weaknesses of academic sociology, and a mysterious one at that. For Durkheim, one of sociology's…

Abstract

Surely the absence of a sociology of morality has to be one of the major weaknesses of academic sociology, and a mysterious one at that. For Durkheim, one of sociology's founding fathers, morality was to have a central place as an object of inquiry; moreover, he was passionately interested in it on the existential level, as was Weber.

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International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 16 no. 1/2
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0144-333X

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Article
Publication date: 21 July 2021

Kurt Rachlitz, Benjamin Grossmann-Hensel and Ronja Friedl

In this paper, the authors aim to clarify the relationship between organization and society. They argue that the proliferation of organization in modernity has not yet…

Abstract

Purpose

In this paper, the authors aim to clarify the relationship between organization and society. They argue that the proliferation of organization in modernity has not yet been properly understood in light of the absence of organization in premodern times. The authors therefore ask: Why do organizations proliferate? Why do they proliferate in such manifold organizational forms? And how can these heterogeneous forms nevertheless be related to a common problem to which organizations provide a solution? A comparative historical analysis based on the theory of social systems reveals that organizations fill a gap which the decline of morality as an integrative success medium created.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper develops a conceptual framework focusing on the theory of media within Luhmann’s theory of social systems as a point of departure. The authors discuss the concept of “interpenetration” to assess the relation between morality and organization. They raise several follow-up questions for future empirical research, most prominently pertaining to the relationship between organization and digitalization.

Findings

The main finding is that morality can be conceptualized as a specific success medium (alongside religion and symbolically generalized communication media) which used to structure premodern societies by means of social and interhuman interpenetration at once. Modern society instead employs two differentiated forms of interpenetration: Social interpretation through organizations and interhuman interpenetration through love relationships. These centripetal counterforces help to mediate the centrifugal forces unleashed by the full development of modern success media. Modern society critically depends on the proliferation of organizations.

Originality/value

This paper examines the relationship between morality and organization not from the perspective of interaction or organization, but from the perspective of society. This approach provides novel insights in that it opens up promising avenues of comparison between organization and other social forms. Understanding the distinctively modern “success story” of organization as a social form makes it possible to ask about corresponding potentials and limitations, but also alternative possibilities. In doing so, the authors depart from most studies of organizations grounded in social systems theory as the authors primarily focus on Luhmann’s theory of media (as opposed to the theory of differentiation).

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Kybernetes, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0368-492X

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Book part
Publication date: 2 September 2019

Philip Balsiger and Simone Schiller-Merkens

Moral struggles in and around markets abound in contemporary societies where markets have become the dominant form of economic coordination. Reviewing research on morality

Abstract

Moral struggles in and around markets abound in contemporary societies where markets have become the dominant form of economic coordination. Reviewing research on morality and markets across disciplinary boundaries, this introductory essay suggests that a moral turn can currently be observed in scholarship, and draws a direct connection to recent developments in the sociology of morality. The authors introduce the chapters in the present volume “The Contested Moralities of Markets.” In doing so, the authors distinguish three types of moral struggles in and around markets: struggles around morally contested markets where the exchange of certain goods on markets is contested; struggles within organizations that are related to an organization’s embeddedness in complex institutional environments with competing logics and orders of worth; and moral struggles in markets where moral justifications are mobilized by a variety of field members who act as moral entrepreneurs in their striving for moralizing the economy. Finally, the authors highlight three properties of moral struggles in contemporary markets: They (1) arise over different objects, (2) constitute political struggles, and (3) are related to two broader social processes: market moralization and market expansion. The introduction concludes by discussing some of the theoretical approaches that allow particular insights into struggles over morality in markets. Collectively, the contributions in this volume advance our current understanding of the contested moralities of markets by highlighting the sources, processes, and outcomes of moral struggles in and around markets, both through tracing the creation, reproduction, and change of underlying moral orders and through reflecting the status and power differentials, alliances, and political strategies as well as the general cultural, social, and political contexts in which the struggles unfold.

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The Contested Moralities of Markets
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78769-120-9

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Book part
Publication date: 19 October 2012

Rengin Firat and Steven Hitlin

Purpose – Due to an absence of dialogue between sociology and the neurosciences, the scientific study of morality largely ignores cultural and structural influences. This…

Abstract

Purpose – Due to an absence of dialogue between sociology and the neurosciences, the scientific study of morality largely ignores cultural and structural influences. This chapter offers a synthetic approach integrating these separate disciplines to aid a more complete understanding of morality.

Design/methodology/approach – This chapter reviews morality's bonding (a sense of groupness and belonging) and bounding (reproducing and reinforcing group boundaries) qualities across disciplines, and proposes three provisional principles to systematize an interdisciplinary model of morality. We then offer a preliminary illustration of how this model might be operationalized with functional MRI data.

Findings – Our proposed principles (as exemplified by our illustrative example) suggest that the sociology-neurology gap in understanding the domain of morality might shrink through an engagement with the underlying neural mechanisms that encompass issues of empathy, racial attitudes, and identity as potential platforms opening up a more “social” neuroscience.

Research limitations/implications – This chapter provides a starting-point for further research incorporating biological mechanisms into sociological theories in the area of morality. The illustrative case study should be replicated in a larger sample and/or in additional studies with different social groups.

Practical implications – This chapter is a useful source of information for sociologists seeking to find out more about the intersection of neuroscience and sociology as well as the neural dynamics of morality.

Originality/value – This chapter presents an introduction to an integrative approach recognizing our biological capacities for a socially constructed morality and the interaction between society and the mind. It includes one of the first sociologically oriented fMRI studies, offering avenues for new ways to bridge research disciplines.

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Biosociology and Neurosociology
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-78190-257-8

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Book part
Publication date: 7 June 2019

Lily Morse, Jonathan Keeney and Christopher P. Adkins

In this chapter, we explore the importance of morality in groups. We draw from decades of research from multiple perspectives, including psychology, neuroscience…

Abstract

In this chapter, we explore the importance of morality in groups. We draw from decades of research from multiple perspectives, including psychology, neuroscience, philosophy, and organizational science, to illustrate the range of ways that morality influences social attitudes and group behavior. After synthesizing the literature, we identify promising directions for business ethics scholars to pursue. We specifically call for greater research on morality at the meso, or group, level of analysis and encourage studies examining the complex relationship between moral emotions and the social environment. We ultimately hope that this work will provide new insights for managing moral behavior in groups and society.

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Article
Publication date: 27 January 2021

Clinton Amos, Jesse King and Skyler King

Past research has demonstrated a health halo for food product labels (e.g. organic), resulting in inflated perceptions of a product’s healthfulness (e.g. low fat). While…

Abstract

Purpose

Past research has demonstrated a health halo for food product labels (e.g. organic), resulting in inflated perceptions of a product’s healthfulness (e.g. low fat). While past studies have focused on labeling and related health claims, the health halo of brand names has scarcely been investigated. This study aims to address this gap by investigating the health halo of brand names featuring morality- and purity-signifiers.

Design/methodology/approach

The current research uses two experiments to examine the health halo of morality- and purity-signifying brand names on perceptions of nutritional and contaminant attributes. Mediation analysis is performed to investigate perceived naturalness as the mechanism for the brand name effects while moderated mediation analysis examines this mechanism across product types (healthy vs unhealthy).

Findings

The findings reveal that both the morality- and purity-signifying brand names produce a health halo on nutritional and contaminant attributes, regardless of product healthiness. Further, mediation and moderated mediation analysis provide evidence for perceived naturalness as the underlying mechanism driving these effects.

Social implications

This research highlights unwarranted consumer inferences made based upon food brand names and, thus has implications for consumers, public policy and marketing managers.

Originality/value

While much health halo research has focused on labeling, this research examines the health halo of two brand name types which symbolically convey either morality or purity. This research provides additional contributions by investigating perceived naturalness as the underlying mechanism for the effects and is one of the few studies to investigate the health halo for both healthy and unhealthy products.

Details

Journal of Product & Brand Management, vol. ahead-of-print no. ahead-of-print
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1061-0421

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1992

John Conway O'Brien

A collection of essays by a social economist seeking to balanceeconomics as a science of means with the values deemed necessary toman′s finding the good life and society…

Abstract

A collection of essays by a social economist seeking to balance economics as a science of means with the values deemed necessary to man′s finding the good life and society enduring as a civilized instrumentality. Looks for authority to great men of the past and to today′s moral philosopher: man is an ethical animal. The 13 essays are: 1. Evolutionary Economics: The End of It All? which challenges the view that Darwinism destroyed belief in a universe of purpose and design; 2. Schmoller′s Political Economy: Its Psychic, Moral and Legal Foundations, which centres on the belief that time‐honoured ethical values prevail in an economy formed by ties of common sentiment, ideas, customs and laws; 3. Adam Smith by Gustav von Schmoller – Schmoller rejects Smith′s natural law and sees him as simply spreading the message of Calvinism; 4. Pierre‐Joseph Proudhon, Socialist – Karl Marx, Communist: A Comparison; 5. Marxism and the Instauration of Man, which raises the question for Marx: is the flowering of the new man in Communist society the ultimate end to the dialectical movement of history?; 6. Ethical Progress and Economic Growth in Western Civilization; 7. Ethical Principles in American Society: An Appraisal; 8. The Ugent Need for a Consensus on Moral Values, which focuses on the real dangers inherent in there being no consensus on moral values; 9. Human Resources and the Good Society – man is not to be treated as an economic resource; man′s moral and material wellbeing is the goal; 10. The Social Economist on the Modern Dilemma: Ethical Dwarfs and Nuclear Giants, which argues that it is imperative to distinguish good from evil and to act accordingly: existentialism, situation ethics and evolutionary ethics savour of nihilism; 11. Ethical Principles: The Economist′s Quandary, which is the difficulty of balancing the claims of disinterested science and of the urge to better the human condition; 12. The Role of Government in the Advancement of Cultural Values, which discusses censorship and the funding of art against the background of the US Helms Amendment; 13. Man at the Crossroads draws earlier themes together; the author makes the case for rejecting determinism and the “operant conditioning” of the Skinner school in favour of the moral progress of autonomous man through adherence to traditional ethical values.

Details

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 19 no. 3/4/5
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0306-8293

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Article
Publication date: 8 May 2017

Chan Pui Yee, Krishna Moorthy and William Choo Keng Soon

The success of self-assessment tax system is voluntary compliance with the tax laws. When tax evasion is seen as unacceptable, taxpayers will tend to evade tax less…

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Abstract

Purpose

The success of self-assessment tax system is voluntary compliance with the tax laws. When tax evasion is seen as unacceptable, taxpayers will tend to evade tax less. Hence, the understanding of taxpayers’ attitude on tax morality towards a tax system has to be enhanced to minimize tax evasion cases. The purposes of this study are to examine the relationship between tax fairness, tax knowledge, enforcement level and social exchange towards taxpayers’ attitude of tax morality under the self-assessment system in Malaysia and also to identify the relationship between taxpayers’ attitude of tax morality and taxpayers’ perceptions on tax evasion.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 400 taxpayers through a questionnaire and analysed.

Findings

From the analysis, it has been found out that tax knowledge is the most important tax system characteristic that affects taxpayers’ attitude of tax morality. In addition, taxpayers’ attitude of tax morality is significant to taxpayers’ perceptions on tax evasion in Malaysia.

Originality/value

The findings of this study would be useful for the government to further improve the present tax system to increase voluntary tax compliance.

Details

International Journal of Law and Management, vol. 59 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1754-243X

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Book part
Publication date: 3 December 2005

Rekha Mirchandani

Zygmunt Bauman's work is a case study in the possibilities of postmodernism for sociology. Characterized on the one hand by a gloomy epistemology about knowledge and…

Abstract

Zygmunt Bauman's work is a case study in the possibilities of postmodernism for sociology. Characterized on the one hand by a gloomy epistemology about knowledge and morality in a postmodern world and on the other, by provocative new concepts to empirically describe a postmodern world, Bauman's work evidences a key tension within postmodern thought. Is it possible to reconcile Bauman's pessimistic epistemology with his optimistic sociology? My argument is that if we recast Bauman as a critical theorist and his method as dialectical immanent critique, we can see how his positive empirical concepts are based on his negative epistemology. In this way we can make sense of the complexity of Bauman's work and appreciate his prophetic abilities. The complexities and possibilities of postmodern thought in general become clearer as well.

Details

Social Theory as Politics in Knowledge
Type: Book
ISBN: 978-1-84950-363-1

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Article
Publication date: 6 May 2021

Magnus Söderlund and Eeva-Liisa Oikarinen

Firms have begun to introduce virtual agents (VAs) in service encounters, both in online and offline environments. Such VAs typically resemble human frontline employees in…

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1158

Abstract

Purpose

Firms have begun to introduce virtual agents (VAs) in service encounters, both in online and offline environments. Such VAs typically resemble human frontline employees in several ways (e.g. the VAs may have a gender and a name), which indicates the presence of an assumption by VA designers – and by firms that employ them – that VA humanness is a positively charged characteristic. This study aims to address this assumption by examining antecedents to perceived humanness in terms of attribution of agency, emotionality and morality, and the impact of perceived humanness on customer satisfaction.

Design/methodology/approach

A questionnaire was distributed online to participants who had been interacting with existing VAs, and they were asked to focus on one of them for this study. The questionnaire comprised measures of antecedents to perceived humanness of VAs, perceived humanness per se and customer satisfaction. A structural equation modeling approach was used to assess associations between the variables.

Findings

Attributions of agency, emotionality and morality to VAs contributed positively to the perceived humanness of the VAs, and perceived humanness was positively associated with customer satisfaction.

Research limitations/implications

Additional humanness capabilities should be explored in further research.

Practical implications

Firms using VAs in service encounters should make attempts to maximize perceived VA humanness, and this study shows that it may be beneficial if such attempts comprise signals that VAs have agency, emotionality and morality.

Originality/value

By examining VAs in terms of a set of fundamental human capabilities, the present study contributes to existing research on human–VA service encounters, which to date has focused on more superficial VA characteristics (such as if the VA has a face and gender).

Details

European Journal of Marketing, vol. 55 no. 13
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0309-0566

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