Sociology Index

Peter Michael Blau

Among distinguished sociologists, Peter Michael Blau was an American sociologist born in Austria. Peter Michael Blau specialised in organizational and social structures, particular bureaucracy. Peter Michael Blau's theories had many applications within phenomenological sociology, social mobility, occupational opportunity and heterogeneity. Peter Blau was the first to map out the wide variety of social forces, known as “Blau Space”. Blau-space is still used as a guide by sociologists in many areas of sociology. Blau also contributed to social exchange theory and conducted major empirical investigations of occupational structure and the structure of business organizations.

Blau believed that population structure created guidelines for specific human behaviors, especially intergroup relations. Blau thought social mobility was beneficial to intergroup relations within a population structure, and theorized various scenarios involving social relations and mobility. According to Blau, structural conflict is linked to the inequality of status of groups, size of group, and social mobility between groups. Blau's second major contribution to organizational analysis revolved around the study of determinates of the "bureaucratic components" of organizations. The result of this research was Blau's (1970) general theory of differentiation in organizations which had an immediate impact in the field of organizations and American sociology. 

Peter Blau's works include: The Dynamics of Bureaucracy (1955); Formal Organizations: A Comparative Approach (1962), with W. R. Scott; Exchange and Power in Social Life (1964); The American Occupational Structure (1967), with O. D. Duncan; The Structure of Organizations ([971), with R. A. Schoenherr.