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2018/19 Undergraduate Module Catalogue

SLSP2675 Sociology of Work

20 creditsClass Size: 75

Module manager: Ben Hirst

Taught: Semester 2 (Jan to Jun) View Timetable

Year running 2018/19

Pre-requisite qualifications

Normally, 20 credits in the School of Sociology and Social policy at Level 1 (or equivalent)

This module is approved as a discovery module

Module summary

This module will offer students the opportunity to develop a critical understanding of contemporary and classical debates in the sociology and social policy of work and unemployment. Our goal is to address the subjective experience of work, employment and unemployment under the conditions of global capitalism; cultures of work; issues of diversity and discrimination and power and contest within the workplace; emotional and affective labour; transformations in the character of the labour market as well as exploring cases studies on particular occupations, professions and types of labour.


On completion of this module, students should be able to ...
By exploring empirical studies, theories and policies relating to the sociology and social policy of work, on completion of the modules students should be able to:
- better understand the historical development of work and its role in contemporary societies;
- make comparisons regarding work across countries;
- think critically about how these social issues concerning work are framed, and use a social policy/sociological understanding to analyse them;
- apply and develop general social science analytical skills;
- analyse issues of diversity and discrimination and power in the work place.

Learning outcomes
On completion of the module, students should be better able to….
- Demonstrate a familiarity with and critically assess key theoretical approaches and significant empirical studies within both the Sociology and Social Policy of Work and unemployment;
- Understand and deploy both these and empirical data to analyse issues of diversity and discrimination in the workplace, with reference to some of the following areas: Age, Class, Disability, Race, Ethnicity, Gender, Sexuality and Religion;
- Deploy a global perspective to systematically explore the transformation of work;
- Understand and deploy quantitative and qualitative data in the critical study of work employment


Block 1: Work and employment
• Theorising work: The contested meanings of work, labour, employment and “non-work” from a sociological perspective. A historical overview of the role of work in society
• The organisation of work: Cultures, Workplaces, skills, employers, managers, unions, routines, autonomy and control, flexibility, transformation of work
• The UK labour market. An international comparative overview of British work paying attention to the structure of employment, economic sectors, unemployment and underemployment, wages and in-work poverty, employment protection legislation, within the context of the European union and Global Labour Laws.
Block 2: Inequalities and Power in work
• Occupations and occupational change: upskilling, polarisation and duality, technological change, knowledge economy
• Precariousness: Limits of occupational upgrading, the hourglass economy, structural unemployment, in-work poverty, insiders/outsiders, low wage employment, insecurity
• Social and cultural inequalities in the work place: Gender pay gaps, male breadwinner model, segmentation, segregation, production and reproduction, family policy, inequalities in the workplace: age, class, disability, race, ethnicity, sexuality and religion
• Neoliberalism and global economic working inequalities, dynamics between global South/North
• Unpaid and informal work: Care/domestic work, shadow economy, sex work, forced labour and modern-day slavery
Block 3: The lived experience of work
• Work and life: work and life balance, job satisfaction and earnings, sense of belonging, identity, work ethic, alienation, 24-7 work
• Emotional labour, service activities, real vs displayed emotions, customer service, feelings, training and monitoring
• Sexuality in the Workplace, presentation of the self, body, image
• Discrimination, workplace cultures mobbing and harassment: social divisions and intersectionality, mechanisms of discrimination, stereotypes, fairness, hiring practices, exclusion, anti-discrimination legislation

Teaching methods

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Delivery typeNumberLength hoursStudent hours
Private study hours179.00
Total Contact hours21.00
Total hours (100hr per 10 credits)200.00

Private study

Details of private study and independent learning will include key reading for lectures and seminars, as well as more in-depth reading and research for a 5,000 word assessment at the end of the module. Seminar tasks may include discussion questions, debates, data analysis and interpretation, sharing resources for the basis for discussion and analysis.

4 hours per week are allocated to prepare for seminars and lectures = 40 hours
Reading and research for 5,000 word assessment at end of module = 139 hours

Opportunities for Formative Feedback

Contribution at tutorials.
Ongoing feedback, encouraged and facilitated through open door meetings.

Methods of assessment

Due to COVID-19, teaching and assessment activities are being kept under review - see module enrolment pages for information

Assessment typeNotes% of formal assessment
Essay4,000 words100.00
Total percentage (Assessment Coursework)100.00

Normally resits will be assessed by the same methodology as the first attempt, unless otherwise stated

Reading list

The reading list is available from the Library website

Last updated: 16/01/2019


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