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Unit information: The State of Labour in 2016/17

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Unit name The State of Labour
Unit code SPOLM5110
Credit points 20
Level of study M/7
Teaching block(s) Teaching Block 2 (weeks 13 - 24)
Unit director Dr. Doogan
Open unit status Not open




School/department School for Policy Studies
Faculty Faculty of Social Sciences and Law


This unit will have four components. The introductory set of sessions will deal with the distinctiveness (or otherwise) of welfare systems in East Asia. This will engage with theoretical debates about welfare regimes as well as more substantive discussions of human capital investment, demographic change and the contemporary political economy of East Asia. These discussions will then be linked to three policy themes: urbanization and shelter; wealth and inequality; welfare and family change.


The unit aims to familiarise students with the key debates about societal transformation as they relate to the transformation of work. The impact of globalisation and the spread of neoliberalism will be explored in detail in relation to the restructuring of the state and the delivery of welfare services. The emergence of new patterns of employment, occupational and industrial change will be critically examined, and the role and pace of technological change will be critically reviewed in relation to the recomposition of the workforce. The unit aims to achieve a a good understanding of the major factors which both express and suppress the change dynamic. It will also consider the gap between the material and discursive realities in the representation of societal transformation.

Intended learning outcomes

Upon successful completion of this unit students will be able to demonstrate critical knowledge and understanding of:

  • The forces which drive and constrain the transformation of work, both nationally and internationally;
  • Labour market theory; and
  • The range of the social, technological and institutional factors that are associated with societal transformation and expressed through labour market change.

Teaching details

Ten, one hour lectures followed by one hour classes.

Assessment Details

4,000 word assessed essay, reflecting the learning outcomes listed above.

Reading and References

  • Boltanski, L., and Chiapello, E., The New Spirit of Capitalism, London Verso
  • Bonoli, G., George, Taylor-Gooby. P., (2000) European Welfare Futures, Towards a Theory of Retrenchment, Cambridge Polity Press
  • Castells, M. (1996) The Rise of the Network Society, Oxford, Blackwell
  • Doogan K (2009) New Capitalism? The Transformation of Work, Cambridge, Polity Press
  • George, V., Wilding, P., (2002) Globalization and Human Welfare, London, Palgrave
  • Harvey, D., (2007) A Brief History of Neoliberalism, OUP Oxford 4th Edition