Sociology of labour
|Course code module||3BSOC-010|
|Study load (hours)||168|
|Language of instruction:||Dutch|
|Semester exam information:||exam in the 2nd semester|
|Contract restriction information:|
Knowledge off and insight in the basic concepts of Sociology
Knowledge off the most important sociological paradigms
Knowledge off and insight in organisation theory
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.
· The 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.
- The ability to typify the challenges that present themselves in internal and external labour markets (segmentation, flexibility, 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 ...).
The 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).
- The 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
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
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.
4. Teaching method
Direct contact: LecturesTutorials
Personal work: Assignments - individualSupervised self-study
5. Assessment method
Exam: Written, without oral presentationOpen bookMultiple choiceOpen 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 at ACCO).
· Audiovisual material provided on the Blackboard, with accompanying note (Compulsory (V) and Optional (F)).
· Slides, audiovisual material and recent information/ news on the Blackboard.
7. Recommended reading - study material
Relevant journals and websites
Some other interesting 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
Work, Employment & Society
Gender, Work and Organization
Work and Occupations
- 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
- CRB (Central Council for Business) http://www.ccecrb.fgov.be/
- SERV (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 (ACV) http://www.acv-csc.be/
- Federation of Enterprises in Belgium http://www.vbo.be/
- 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 Netherlands) http://osa.kub.nl/
- Steunpunt arbeidsmarkt http://www.kuleuven.ac.be/stwav/
- A website 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 Netherlands http://www.pscw.uva.nl/sociosite/TOPICS/Labor.html
- 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 Netherlands 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
- Tme allocation research : http://www.vub.ac.be/TOR/
- Equal opportunities policy in Flanders : http://www.gelijkekansen.vlaanderen.be/
- 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): http://www.serv.be/dispatcher.aspx?page_ID=03-00-00-00-0000
- 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/
Questions can be asked in the lessons of by sending an e-mail to the professor or assistent. Students can discuss the course content through the Forum on Blackboard.
laatste aanpassing: last update: 04/03/2009 14:50 erik.henderickx