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The Sociology of Work


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1: The Historical Transformation of Work Work in pre-industrial societies Work in industrial capitalist societies Main features of work in industrial capitalist societies Capitalist industrialization and the primacy of work Crises and industrial capitalism Technological and organizational change The rise of trade unions Women and work in the development of industrial capitalism The dominant conception of work in industrial capitalism Chapter 2: Work and Alienation Marx's theory of alienation Blauner's technology and alienation thesis Critique of Blauner's technology and alienation thesis Empirical research on the Blauner thesis Chapter 3: Work and Deskilling Braverman's deskilling thesis Critique of Braverman's deskilling thesis Braverman's supporters Chapter 4: Work, Upskilling and Polarization Bell's upskilling thesis Critique of Bell's upskilling thesis Bell`s supporters The polarization of skill? Chapter 5: Industrial Work: Fordism, Neo-Fordism and Post-Fordism The rise of Fordism The development of Fordism beyond the workplace The decline of Fordism Solutions to the crisis of Fordism: neo-Fordism and post-Fordism Chapter 6: Service Work: Fordism, Neo-Fordism and Post-Fordism Interactive service work The rise of Fordism and interactive service work Interactive service work: neo-Fordism and post-Fordism Knowledge work and the Fordist model of change Chapter 7: Non-Standard Work The destandardization of work thesis Contractural destandardization: self-employment Spatial destandardization: homeworking Temporal destandardization: temporary and part time work Critical evaluation of the destandardization thesis Chapter 8: Out of Work: Unemployment Unemployment: meaning and measurement Jahoda`s deprivation theory of unemployment Class, age and gender, and the impact of unemployment Critical evaluation of Jahoda`s deprivation theory of unemployment Chapter 9: Domestic Work The sociology of domestic work Domestic work: conditions and technology The symmetrical family thesis Critical evaluation of the symmetrical family thesis Explanations of the unequal division of domestic labour Outsourcing domestic work Chapter 10: Globalization: Paid and Unpaid Work Globalization Causes of globalization Globalization in action: call centres The transformation of paid work? The transformation of unpaid work? Concluding remarks: continuity and change and `work`

About the Author

Stephen Edgell is a Research Professor of Sociology at the University of Salford, England. He has undertaken qualitative research Middle Class Couples: A Study of Segregation, Domination and Inequality in Marriage (Allen & Unwin, 1980), quantitative research A Measure of Thatcherism: A Sociology of Britain (Unwin Hyman, 1991, co-author Vic Duke), and archival research Veblen in Perspective: His Life and Thought (Taylor & Francis, 2001), and has published numerous articles in a wide-range of British, American and European social science journals. A career-long interest in the sociology of work culminated in the publication of a textbook entitled The Sociology of Work: Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work in 2006 and a revised 2nd edition in 2012. He is the co-editor of The SAGE Handbook of the Sociology of Work and Employment (2016), along with Heidi Gottfried and Edward Granter.


This is a highly readable and approachable account of the sociology of work. With the additional material included in this new edition, Edgell brings the topic squarely into the 21st Century. The book provides excellent coverage of many of the key debates within the field in a lucid, yet succinct manner. All of the principal issues and controversies are placed into historical perspective, with a consistent focus on key developments, transitions, continuities and discontinuities within patterns of work and employment. Edgell demonstrates excellent command of a wide-ranging subject matter, rendering intelligible a broad set of interrelated themes. In short, this is a first-rate introductory text that is sure to become essential reading for students, teachers, and researchers who are interested in this field
Jason Hughes
Senior Lecturer, Brunel University The Sociology of Work is an excellent text. Its comparative and historical sweep is particularly welcome and the analysis provided is thoughtful and well grounded. Stephen Edgell is to be congratulated for successfully updating and refreshing the original text and for providing such a valuable and accessible resource
John Eldridge
Emeritus Professor, University of Glasgow The second edition of Steve Edgell's book is an invaluable and up-to-date text for students and researchers. Detailed and wide-ranging in its scope it is an excellent source of materials combined with a thought provoking and challenging set of arguments
Huw Beynon
Professor, Cardiff University

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