The Moral Economy of Solidarity: A Longitudinal Study of Special Needs Teachers



Bolton SC & Laaser K (2020) The Moral Economy of Solidarity: A Longitudinal Study of Special Needs Teachers. Work, Employment and Society, 34 (1), pp. 55-72.

Based on a longitudinal study of a Pupil Referral Unit (PRU) in England for children excluded from mainstream schools and utilising a moral economy lens, this article explores how solidarity is created and maintained in a very particular community of teachers and learning support assistants (LSAs). A moral economy approach highlights the centrality of people’s moral norms and values for understanding the multi-layered dimensions of solidarity in organisations and how it changes in the context of transformations in the labour process. The article illustrates how teachers and LSAs rely on mutuality, underpinned by moral norms of justice, and values of care, dignity and recognition, to cope with physically and emotionally demanding work that is under-resourced and undervalued. The analysis reveals that solidarity is not only against unjust workplace regimes, but also for connectivity and a humanised labour process.

austerity; inequality; labour process; moral economy; Pupil Referral Unit; schools; solidarity

Work, Employment and Society: Volume 34, Issue 1

Publication date29/02/2020
Publication date online23/01/2020
Date accepted by journal19/07/2019

People (2)


Professor Sharon Bolton

Professor Sharon Bolton

Emeritus Professor, Management, Work and Organisation

Dr Knut Laaser

Dr Knut Laaser

Lecturer, Management, Work and Organisation