HRMU9WS: Work, Employment and Society

Semester:  Spring

Level:  9

Credit Value:  20

Module Coordinator:  Mr Knut Laaser, Management, Work & Organisation Division

Contact Hours:  30 hours

Assessment:  Essay (approximately 2,500 words) (35%), seminar performance (15%) & final examination (50%)


The module will enable students to appreciate and engage with the complexity of debates in the sociology of work, employment and management, and consider their future implications for patterns and practices of work and employment. Students will be able to understand decisions in complex organisational contexts.

On completion of the module students should be able to understand and critically analyse the wider social and employment context within which organisations (private, public and not-for-profit) operate. They will have developed a critical understanding of key issues and debates within the sociology of work, and other disciplines, in relation to work and employment, an awareness of demographic changes and the impacts of these on labour markets, employment, management, and organisations.

Learning Outcomes:

Definitions and key concepts of work

  • What is and isn’t work?
  • Models of the employment relationship

Why people work

  • The work ethic, economic necessity, motivation and actualisation
  • The meaning of work and meaningful work. Vocations

External environment conditions & the changing context of work

  • Workforce composition and demographic change
  • Changing regional and local political contexts
  • The globalisation of product, labour and knowledge markets
  • Patterns of change in industries and the changing nature of employment

Different types of work

  • Hidden, unpaid and voluntary work
  • Good and bad work
  • Trends and occupations
  • Other contexts, beyond formal and visible work, where productive activity takes place. To include unpaid care work, unrecognised work in the domestic sphere, voluntary work, undeclared or concealed work, stigmatised work.

Gender, race & ethnicity and labour markets

  • Growing feminisation of the labour force/ growth in service sector employment
  • Migrant workers and employment rights & protection. The role of trade unions and civil society organisations

Where people work

  • Tele-working, remote and Home-based work
  • Different organisational forms, e.g. cooperatives

Work and life: work/life balance; lifestyle

  • Locating work within a broader picture of adult lives. To explore attitudes to work and leisure. For example starting with the Affluent Worker and Working for Ford


This module information is representative of what is included in the module in a given year. Details of actual reading, lectures and coursework may vary year to year and will be available at the beginning of the semester.

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