Interview with Professor Byoung-Hoon Lee, Editor of Sociology Compass

Interview with Professor Byoung-Hoon Lee, Editor of Sociology Compass
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Compass of Sociology is pleased to welcome Professor Byoung-Hoon Lee as our new Associate Editor of the Work, Organizations and Economics Section. Byoung-Hoon is a professor in the Department of Sociology at Chung-Ang University, South Korea. The Sociology Compass Associate Editor’s role is to lead the ordering of recent review articles by subject area. We took the opportunity to talk about his research and goals for the Work, Organizations and Economy section as he joins the Sociology Compass editorial team.

Tell us about your scientific activities and how you came to study sociology?

I have a master’s degree and PhD in industrial and labor relations from Cornell University and, in addition to my professorship at Chung-Ang University, I have had a wide range of work experience ranging from systems engineering to government policymaking and social dialogue, NPO/NGO and union activities, as well as as a media/press columnist. My research interests started with industrial relations and labor (re)organization in the automotive sector, and over time expanded to various thematic areas, such as polarization and precarization of labor markets, industrial restructuring, union representation and workers’ struggle, human change. resource management and industrial relations, labor policy and social dialogue, neoliberal economics and lean production models.

While carrying out research in such diverse academic areas of work sociology and work studies, I conducted joint projects with researchers from other areas of sociology (ie social classes and movements, organizational studies and economic sociology), and continued to participate in interdisciplinary collaborations. working with scholars in labor economics and law, business studies, social welfare/policy, political science, psychology and industrial/geographical studies. Sociology was the very symbol of critical studies and democratic struggles criticizing South Korea’s authoritarian regime and neoliberal capitalism, which led me to choose sociology as a field of lifelong academic study.

What questions would you consider the most compelling or important to your research area at this time?

We are currently living in an era of great change, fueled by the digital revolution, the climate crisis and zero standards, an aging population and a global pandemic. Faced with these enormous trends, we can consider the following research questions:

  • what impact such changes have on working life and labor relations, business operations and organizational structures in the private and public sectors and the macro economy and industrial sectors;
  • how working people, business organizations and public administrations in new political economies respond to the challenges and threats arising from those transformations and what interactions these actors create;
  • the extent to which changes in work, organizations and economies are converging or diverging around the world;
  • what methodological improvement of the quantitative and qualitative approach could be applied to understand and theorize the ongoing transformation in work, organizations and the economy.

I want these research queries answered or review articles reviewed in the Work, Organizations and Economy section.

What do you think sociological research contributes to society? Why is this important?

I think that sociological research has made a significant contribution to the scientific diagnosis and practical solution of social problems and will help to solve the problems of society caused by current and future transformations. The sociological imagination, defined by C. Wright Mills as “an awareness of the relationship between personal experience and the wider society,” offers historical, comparative, and critical perspectives on sociological research to broaden and deepen understanding of societal problems and find just solutions. social injustice. In addition, accumulated sociological research sheds light on the interplay between actors and the context environment and is a useful lens for finding ways to manage the subjective well-being of actors and to address certain social problems.

As Associate Editor of the Work, Organizations, and Economics Section of Sociology Compass, what do you look for when ordering and evaluating review articles?

I am looking for topics focused on the above-mentioned recent developments relevant to academic work communities, organizations and economic sociology. For example, platform capitalism, precarious work and fractured jobs, climate crisis and transition in industry and work, and innovative sustainability in business operations and political economy are some of the interesting research topics in this department. When evaluating commissioned articles, I aim for a comprehensive discussion of recent research developments in empirical analysis and theoretical debate, and how review opinions are addressed in a clear, well-reasoned manner.

In addition, I want to further globalize the composition of the section’s review articles by finding their topics and authors, crossing the academic boundaries of the advanced economies of the global northwest and reaching research questions of work, organizations and economics. the balance of non-Western global South societies.

What inspires you to participate in Sociology Compass as an associate editor?

The purpose of Compass of Sociology, “To create an ideal starting point for specialists and non-specialists to help them find and interpret the best research in the field (sociology).” This goal inspires me to become involved with SoCo as an Associate Editor. There are a number of scholarly journals based on different areas of sociology, mainly aimed at specialists in their own academic communities. SoCo’s effort to expand its audience to include non-specialists, including students, touches me deeply, as I am concerned that sociological journals, both in the local (South Korean) and international contexts, have focused on specialist-oriented publication. excluding non-specialists in their academic discourse.

In line with SoCo’s principle of inclusion, my aim as Associate Editor is to promote the publication of good quality review articles not only to update specialist understanding, but also to inspire non-specialists interested in empirical findings and theoretical debates on important academic issues. sociological fields of work, organizations and economics.

What would you put at the top of a recommended reading list for readers and researchers new to your discipline?

I recommend three books for new readers in the work, organizations and economy section:

1. The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi (1944)

The former is an influential classic for discussing the political and economic transformations that accompanied the rise of the market economy and nation-state in modern British history. Polanyi’s book provides excellent insight into the twin movements between liberal market-driven unorganized capitalism and state-regulated organized capitalism over the past century and into the present.

2. The Fissured Workplace by David Weil (2017)

The second provides a fascinating picture of US corporate business and organizational restructuring. Weil’s book exposes the fragmentation of jobs through subcontracting, outsourcing, and franchising, and provides detailed evidence of the damaging effects of corporate restructuring on the work of the American people, which can be seen in many countries as well.

3. Labor under Capitalism, Chris Tilly and Charles Tilly (1998)

The third is a well-written textbook that comprehensively explores the world of work and working people under capitalism from an institutionalist perspective. Tilly & Tilly’s book helps laypersons and students gain a good understanding of how the world of work has changed throughout the history of capitalism, how diversity has increased under capitalism, and what theoretical lenses can be useful for explaining change and dispersion in the capitalist world of work. (For this reason, I translated this book into Korean so that I could use it for a “sociology of work” lecture).

Professor Lee takes over this role as Associate Editor from Dr. Eric Dahlin, who ends his term in 2022. at the end We would like to thank Dr. Dahlin for his dedication and commitment to leading the Department of Labour, Organizations and the Economy in the past. years. You can view the articles published during this term here.

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