Maura Kelly

Date of Award

Spring 7-11-2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.) in Sociology



Physical Description

1 online resource (iv, 91 pages)


Harassment -- Oregon -- Case studies, Construction industry -- Oregon -- Case studies, Bullying in the workplace -- Oregon -- Case studies, Organizational behavior -- Oregon -- Case studies, Work environment, Discrimination in employment




Does our status impact the way we interpret change? This study proposes that one's level of power within their workplace, as granted by their role within the organization, shapes the way in which people interpret adjustments to the norms of that organization. Drawing on qualitative focus groups with forty-four members of Oregon's construction trades, this study examines the relationship between participants' position within the industry's structure and their opinions about the changing job site norms brought on by recent waves of diversification in the workforce. Findings suggest that within Oregon's construction trades, hierarchical distribution of power via industry position serves to stratify and reorganize the attitudes and responses of participants. This is done through situating knowledge; different positions hold differential understandings of which issues generate harassment, present barriers to progress, and serve as potential solutions to the issue. Results show that participants who occupy positions of power within the trades tend to frame harassment as an interpersonal problem, which can be solved by interpersonal solutions. Thus, participants in positions of power saw change as an incremental process that was constantly happening. Conversely, participants who were not in positions of power within the trades tended to frame harassment as an institutional problem that required industry-wide changes to be fully addressed. As a result, participants with less power in the trades framed change as generational for the industry; something that could only be achieved after the current workforce. Ultimately, this study highlights the tension between interpersonal and institutional strategies for organizational change.

Persistent Identifier

Included in

Sociology Commons