|Course code module||3BSOC-010|
|Study load (hours)||168|
|Language of instruction:||Dutch|
|Semester exam information:||semester exam in June|
|Contract restriction information:|
Sociology of labour takes a sociological approach to all labour-related phenomena within a globalising economy. Sociologists of labour are concerned with labour, and how it is organised and perceived. The essential premise of research in this area is that the specific manner in which society organises labour provides a fundamental explanatory concept for the social structure and for societal change in general, as well as for social inequalities and collective conflictual action in particular. Hence, sociology of labour is one of the most important sociological subdisciplines.
2. Objectives (expected learning outcomes)
By the end of the course, students should be able to demonstrate the following competencies:
· Scientific knowledge and insights into the principal behavioural and sociological theories of labour, labour systems and distribution, the organisation of labour, the labour market and industrial relations. This implies that students should be able to summarise the course content in their own words and connect the various course topics with one another.
· Ability to confront various theoretical approaches with the results of (international) comparative and/or longitudinal scientific research.
Consequently, students should be able to formulate and substantiate research questions pertaining to the sociology of labour and put forward an appropriate research design.
Students should, by means of the conceptual framework provided by the sociology of labour, also be able to analyse relevant current challenges and policy issues. This encompasses:
- The ability to distinguish between the various factors affecting labour and the economy (technology, globalisation, climate issues and the welfare state) and to elucidate their impact on the labour system.
- The ability to distinguish evolution(s) in work ethics, centrality of labour and labour orientations, from a comparative historical and spatial perspective, and on the basis of recent sociological research.
- The ability to analyse and question labour issues in companies or organisations (organisation of labour, organisation of production, production or service technology, quality of labour, …), as well as various policy issues relating to safety, health and wellbeing at work.
- Ability to typify the challenges that present themselves in internal and external labour markets (segmentation, flexibilisation, social exclusion, unemployment, employment policy …) from the perspective of sociological labour market theories, as well as the ability to typify possible policy pathways (unemployment, activation ...).
- Ability to distinguish between the various schools of thought on 'industrial relations' as well as the various policy issues that may present themselves (manifest or latent conflicts, important negotiation issues relating to wage / income and working hours, employment, social security, participation, flexibility etc).
- Ability to formulate a tentative answer to the question of whether the labour system is in transition, within the context of the (active) welfare state and welfare society.
3. Course content
At the start of the 21st century, the labour system is undergoing momentous change: new technologies (such as ICT) and new organisational forms are affecting the manner in which we work in the context of a globalising economy (‘The world is flat’) and a warming climate. Industrial relations are becoming more flexible, the rising female participation rate is resulting in a more problematic balance between work and the private sphere, work performance standards are becoming stricter and conditions of labour are being determined at an increasingly decentralised level. This course considers the changes that have unfolded in relation to the contingencies of labour and the (local/global) economy, work ethics, the organisation of labour (production, services), and the labour markets and (organised) industrial relations, from the perspective of the sociology of labour.
Industrial relations take shape in three interrelated societal arenas: (1) The labour market is where suppliers and demanders of labour meet one another (locally, globally). Here, the primary concerns are who ends up where (allocation, with ‘winners’ and ‘losers') and the remuneration of labour. (2) In the arena of the organisation of labour, employer and employee are connected through a system of labour division and hierarchical coordination. Here, the main question is how the available workforce is deployed in concrete situations and performances with a view to attaining the goals of the organisation. This gives rise to the issue of quality of labour (attractiveness of jobs or careers, absenteeism, stress, opportunities for learning etc.). (3) Finally, in the arena of collective bargaining and consultation, employers’ and employees’ organisations strive to regulate the processes that unfold in the labour market and within organisations. The course deals extensively with evolutions in these three arenas and their consequences for industrial relations.
In order to reach the aforementioned attainment goals, the course strives towards a balanced mix of teaching methods. The approach takes is one of student-centred and competency-oriented (interactive) teaching, in conformity with the vision of the
- Lectures: introductory exploration of important aspects of a course topic. Students are provided beforehand with lecture slides, also available via Blackboard.
- Study assignments: students are required to prepare a (sub)topic (= supervised self-study: analysis of a text on the basis of guiding questions, processing of audiovisual information (distinction between compulsory (C) and optional (O) …)) and written reporting via Blackboard within a specified timeframe. Oral reporting during lectures. Assignments should be prepared prior to the sessions (supervised self-study). Some assignments are individual, others are performed in group. If students fail to report on time via Blackboard, no grade is awarded.
- Debate sessions: Students are given an opportunity to engage in an interactive debate during the session(s). Divergent viewpoints on a current labour issue are adopted and confronted with each other. Debate sessions are prepared during the study assignments.
As a rule, interventions during and participation in lectures are appreciated. Occasionally, ‘buzz sessions’ will be inserted to allow the students to confer among themselves. The course also picks up on current issues relating to the course topics discussed.
Students shall be evaluated as follows: (1) a mark out of 10 for performances during the semester (assignments via Blackboard, active participation in lectures (analysis and reasoning). (2) a mark out of 10 for performance in a synthesis exam (open book, written preparation followed by oral elucidation), at the end of the semester. Students should attain at least 4/10 for each of these evaluations in order to be awarded a credit for 'Sociology of Labour'.
Students can earn one bonus point for putting forward an interesting reference pertaining to the course content (film, figure, academic text ...).
4. Teaching method
Direct contact: LecturesSeminars (possible question and answer sessions)
Personal work: Assignments - individualAssignments - in groupSupervised self-studyExcursion(s)
5. Assessment method
Exam: Written, without oral presentationWritten, with oral presentationClosed bookOpen bookOpen questions
Continuous assessment: Assignments
6. Compulsory reading – study material
· Van Ruysseveldt, J. & Van Hoof J. (2006), Arbeid in verandering, Alphen aan den Rijn: Kluwer (verkrijgbaar bij ACCO).
· A reader with recent scientific articles and slides (available from ACCO).
· Audiovisual material provided via Blackboard, with accompanying note (Compulsory and Optional).
· Slides, audiovisual material and topical information via Blackboard.
7. Recommended reading - study material
Relevant journals and websites
- Tijdschrift voor Arbeidsvraagstukken
- Tijdschrift voor Sociologie
- Samenleving en Politiek
- De Gids op Maatschappelijke Gebied
- Gedrag en organisatie
- Belgisch tijdschrift voor de Sociale Zekerheid
- Sociologie du Travail
- Industrial Relations
- Work, Employment & Society
- Human Relations
- Gender, Work and Organization
- Work and Occupations
- Organization Studies
Some other interesting websites:
· Federal Planning Bureau http://www.plan.be/
· National Statistics Office http://statbel.fgov.be/
· RSZ http://www.onssrszlss.fgov.be/onssrsz/index
· RVA http://rva.fgov.be/
· VDAB http://www.vdab.be
· VIZO http://www.vizo.be
(Central Council for Business) http://www.ccecrb.fgov.be/
(Flanders Social and Economic Council) http://www.serv.be/
· National Labour Council http://www.cnt-nar.be
· Socialist trade union (ABVV) http://www.abvv.be/
· Liberal trade union http://www.cgslb.be/
· Catholic trade union (
· Federation of Enterprises in
· Flemish Economic Union (VEV) http://www.vev.be/
· Eurostat http://europa.eu.int/en/comm/eurostat
· ILO http://www.ilo.org
· OECD http://www.oecd.org/
· OSA (labour market research in the
· Steunpunt arbeidsmarkt http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/stwav/
· A site with many links to organisations and data sources of interest to sociologists http://www.siswo.uva.nl/
· Industrial relations and trade unions http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/TOPICS/Indrel.html
· labour, organisation of labour and labour market, conditions of labour in the
· Telework (including call centres, telecommerce, telemarketing and teletools) http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/TOPICS/Telework.html
· labour, organisation of labour and labour market, including conditions of labour in the
and telework. http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/topics/labor.html
· Sources on management sociology, including quality management and HRM. http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/topics/management.html
· Industrial relations and trade unions http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/topics/indrel.html
· Taylorism http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/topics/sociologists.html#TAYLOR
· Time allocation research : http://www.vub.ac.be/TOR/
· Equal opportunities policy in
· Dutch Social and Cultural Planning Office : http://www.scp.nl/
· Centre for Social Policy (UFSIA): http://www.ufsia.ac.be/csb/
· General European policy : http://europa.eu.int/
· EU Employment and Social Affairs: http://europa.eu.int/comm/employment_social/
· Obsevatoire Européen de l’Emploi: http://www.eu-employment-observatory.net/src/
· Time credit scheme : http://www.tijdskrediet.be/
· The labour market portal http://statbel.fgov.be/port/lab_nl.asp
· Higher Institute of Labour Studies (HIVA): http://www.hiva.be/
· Centre for Social Policy (CSB): http://webhost.ua.ac.be/csb/
· Flanders Technology Foundation (STV):
· Panel Survey of Organizations (PASO): http://www.paso.be/
· Flemish Interuniversity Research Network on Labour Market Reporting: http://www.viona.be/
· Research Unit on Poverty, Social Exclusion and the City: www.ua.ac.be/oases
Stress, wellbeing at work, psychological contract: www.uv.es/~psycon/