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The Sociology of Work

The Sociology of Work
Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work

Second Edition
Additional resources:

December 2011 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
"A highly readable and approachable account of the sociology of work... a first-rate introductory text that is sure to become essential reading for students, teachers, and researchers."
- Jason Hughes, Brunel University

"An excellent text. Its comparative and historical sweep is particularly welcome and the analysis provided is thoughtful and well grounded."
- John Eldridge
, University of Glasgow

"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
, Cardiff University

Stephen Edgell's book charts the rise of 'work' and explores all aspects of work including paid and unpaid, standard and non-standard and unemployment. New material has been incorporated covering the theories and practices of globalization, interactive service work, economic crisis, technological and organizational change, and trade unions. Drawing on classic and contemporary theorists, the book:

  • Covers key issues regarding paid industrial and service sector work: alienation, skill, post-industrial society, network enterprises, flexibility, Fordism, neo-Fordism, post-Fordism, McDonaldization, emotional labour, destandardization and the social impact of unemployment.
  • Discusses key issues regarding non-paid work: domestic work as 'work', the impact of technology, symmetrical family thesis, the impact of feminism, and globalization.
  • Provides student friendly pedagogy: suggestions for further reading, questions for discussion and assessment, an extensive glossary and links to key websites and downloadable articles.

This latest edition will be welcomed by lecturers and students wanting an authoritative guide to the sociology of work.

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
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`  

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

This is an essential book for students, teachers, researchers and the general public, who are interested in the state-of-the-art approaches to the sociology of work.

Dr Emeka Dumbili
Dept of Sociology & Communications, Brunel University
July 21, 2016

I need this book for explaining market integration and skills from a sociological perspective. I read it and it is a conclusive and thorough book in sociology of work.

Ms Farah Purwaningrum
Sociology , University of Brunei Darussalam
May 12, 2016

The Sociology of Work is a useful introductory text, exploring many of the main areas and themes within this area of Sociology.

The book explores the significant social changes and how these changes have influenced the world of work. The chapter summaries are particularly useful in providing students with an overview of the areas explored throughout the book.

The text is well written, and easy to read. It provides a good supplementary text for any course exploring sociology of the family; exploring social changes and attitudes to work, as well as detailed exploration on domestic work, and the symmetrical family thesis.

I would advise any A Level or undergraduate course to use this book; it provides all the necessary information needed for students to obtain the highest marks, when looking at changes in work and the impact on family life and structure.

Mr Gavin Hatton
Sociology , St David's College
October 2, 2015

A useful book.

Edmund Chattoe-Brown
Sociology Department, University of Leicester
September 19, 2014

An excellent text that covers historical, contemporary and likely future issues concerning work in society. The text provides a solid foundation and knowledge-base that is comprehensive in its own terms but will be of enormous help in assisting students of HRM to understand the challenges of people management in contemporary society. The emphasis on considering moral, social as well as organisational issues comes through strongly in this text which will develop the thinking, analytical and evaluative of students.

Mr Martin Dowling
School of Management, St Andrews University
September 17, 2013

Thematic approaches to very dense. this book serves essenciamente for masters and phd students.
Is not very accessible to the undergraduate sociology students.

Professor Antonio Abrantes
August 28, 2013

A good basic introduction to the debates

Dr Mark Tomlinson
Department of Sociological Studies, Sheffield University
May 14, 2013

The content is precise and to the point! well written! The sociological perspective of work is brilliantly explored.

Mr Amer Shehzad
Lancashire Business School, University of Central Lancashire
March 26, 2013

I'll make use of this book in the planned course on Soc of Work

Professor Christian Fleck
Dep of Sociology, University of Graz
December 17, 2012

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