HRMU9WS: Work, Employment and Society

Semester: Spring

Level: 9

Credit Value: 20

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

Contact Hours: 20 hours lectures, 10 hours seminars

Assessment: 50% Examination, 50% Coursework

Module Overview:

Work occupies a significant part of our life and impacts significantly on our well-being. In this way it can be said that understanding the variety of work that we are engaged in throughout our life course means understanding the complexity of economic and social practices and how they are embedded in peoples’ life. This class provides a survey of key theoretical approaches and empirical literature of the sociology of work. It is designed as an introduction class for undergraduate students to debates in the sociology of work. After this class, students will be able to reflect on the multi-layered nature of work and apply the knowledge they have gained to contemporary issues in the world of work, employment and society. Thereby they will be able to give well-informed and analytical responses to enquiries such as “What is work and what is not work?” “In what ways is employment exploitative?” “Why and for whom is work alienating?” “What are the social consequences of unemployment?” “How can workplaces be a better place for employees?” “Why is there still inequality at work in an increasingly wealthy society?” This is an essential class for students who want to pursue a career in Management, Human Resource Management, but also in unions or education, as it puts the spotlight on the social significance and complexity of work and how it is intermeshed and affects people’s life, their well-being and the communities they are living in.  

Learning Outcomes:

1) Students should be able to describe and contrast different forms of work organisation under capitalism. AT: Exam; Seminar small group debates. Classification of cognitive dimensions of learning objectives: Knowledge, Comprehension.

2) Students should be able to summarise and contrast the key aspects of social theories this class introduced. AT: Exam, Seminar small group debates. Classification of learning objectives: Knowledge and Comprehension.

3) Students should be able to select a specific theoretical approach this class has discussed and apply it to specific contemporary phenomena of the world of work and employment.

AT: Essay. Classification of learning objectives:  Application.

4) By drawing on personal experience, relevant theoretical approaches and empirical case studies from the class students should be able to argue and evaluate when work contributes to human well-being and under what circumstances it causes human suffering. AT: Seminar discussions. Classification of learning outcomes: Analysis, Synthesis.

AT: Assessment technique 

Reading Lists:

Core readings:

Strangleman, Tim and Warren, Tracey (2008): Work and Society: Sociological Approaches, Themes and Methods. Routledge, London. ISBN 9780415336499.

Terkel S (1972) Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. New York: Pantheon Books.

Keith Grint (2007): The Sociology of Work: Introduction, 3rd Edition, Wiley.


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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