Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 6, Issue 3, pp 215–237

Hanging tongues: A sociological encounter with the assembly line

  • William E. Thompson

DOI: 10.1007/BF00987447

Cite this article as:
Thompson, W.E. Qual Sociol (1983) 6: 215. doi:10.1007/BF00987447


This study reflects approximately nine weeks of participant observation on an assembly line in the slaughter division of a large beef processing plant in the Midwest. Couched within a symbolic interactionist perspective, it focuses on the day-to-day activities of assembly line workers. It examines the sociological aspects of the workers' interaction on the job, how they coped with the danger, strain, and monotony of the work, and how they developed consumer spending norms which virtually trapped them in the plant. It also examines how the workers attempted to maintain their sense of self-worth despite the demeaning and dehumanizing aspects of their jobs.

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press 1983

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. Thompson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Sociology/AnthropologyEmporia State UniversityEmporia