Dubin, Robert
April 1965
ILR Review;Apr65, Vol. 18 Issue 3, p352
Academic Journal
The article attempts to subject one sociological contribution to the most stringent test of all -- the ability accurately to predict the course of industrial conflict. This should speak for itself as an example of usefulness of sociology to the disciplines analyzing industrial relations. The article states the prediction as made, secondly marshals the evidence bearing on it, thirdly reviews the model from which the prediction was generated and lastly shows how another model was developed. The past and present do contain at least some of the seeds of the future. While straight extrapolation may be pointless and misleading, a prediction based upon a model of the future social system can be very much in order. For a sociologist in particular, concerned as he is with the stabilities and regularities of social life, there is almost a compulsion to see the scientific task as requiring prediction. But if the tools of social analysis are useful, then the scientifically constructed models of the future social systems should give us the basis for predicting the state of one of the secondary sets of social practices, namely, industrial conflict. A concrete prediction was made ten years ago about the course of industrial conflict in the United States. The trend data bearing on this prediction seem to confirm the general accuracy of the prediction. This lends support to the model from which the prediction was generated. A second model, relating conflict to the power of union and company, complements the first and tested in one instance, the 1959 steel strike proves viable. Judged by results, the sociological analysis of industrial conflict may be considered a positive contribution to knowledge.


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