The Sociology of Work - SO668

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Module delivery information

Location Term Level1 Credits (ECTS)2 Current Convenor3 2021 to 2022
Spring 6 15 (7.5) checkmark-circle


Work and economic life is one of the central themes of sociology. Work allows us to think about class, gender, race and issues of identity. Work defines how people live their lives and is a major constituting factor in identity formation. In recent years work has changed enormously with the rise of globalisation, of deindustrialisation and the ending of old certainties which used to underpin working lives. This module examines how sociology and sociologists have looked at the issue of work in the past as well as in contemporary societies. It charts the theoretical background to the assumptions sociologists make about work as well as the methods they use to investigate work and employment. The module will focus on issues industrialisation, deindustrialisation, notions of career and identity and places and spaces of work. A major part of this module is the discussion of innovative ways of looking at work including through visual methods and approaches, and in addition it will draw on material from the arts and humanities.


Contact hours

One lecture per week, plus one seminar per week in Spring Term.

Method of assessment

100% coursework (one 5,000 word essay)

Indicative reading

Strangleman T & Warren T (2008) Work and Society: Sociological Approaches, Themes & Methods. London: Routledge
Terkel S (1972) Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do. New York: Pantheon Books
Theriault R (1995) How to Tell When You’re Tired: A Brief Examination of Work. New York: Norton

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successful completion of this module students will be able to:
Be aware and be able to critically analyse the key debates within the sociology of work
Understand the key contribution sociology has made to the academic understanding of work
Gain an appreciation of how sociological theory has helped to shape questions around work
Be confident in using a range of approaches in order to understand and critique work
Enhancing an understanding of how the sociology of work relates to a more general sociology
Strengthen awareness of how issues of economic life underpin other aspects of the sociological imagination


  1. Credit level 6. Higher level module usually taken in Stage 3 of an undergraduate degree.
  2. ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
  3. The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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