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

Second Edition
Companion Website


© 2012 | 296 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd

Fully updated and restructured, the Second Edition of Stephen Edgell's comprehensive title charts the rise of `work' from the first human societies.

The book 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, capitalist globalization, neo-liberalism, economic crisis, technological and organizational change, and trade unions.

Drawing on classic and contemporary theorists, the author:

  • Covers key issues regarding paid industrial and service sector work: alienation, skill, post-industrial society, network enterprises in the informational society, flexibility, Fordism, neo-Fordism, post-Fordism McDonaldization, emotional labor, the destandardization of work and the social impact of unemployment
  • Discusses key issues regarding non-paid work: domestic work as `work', the impact of technology, the impact of feminism, feminization 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.

A superb teaching text this new 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
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`  

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

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