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SO4294 Labour Markets, Gender and Institutions (15 ECTS credits)

Lecturer(s): Dr Camilla Devitt Dr Peter Muhlau

Module Content/Outline:

Part I – Issues in Employment and Economic Sociology –  provides students with a systematic introduction to two central and rapidly changing aspects of labour markets in advanced market economies, the increasing participation and changing position of women and the role of migrants and the problem of their socio-economic integration. In the first part of the module which deals with the position of women on the labour market, theories and empirical findings regarding the divisions of paid and unpaid labour, labour market participation of women and wage and career inequality are discussed with a special emphasis on the interplay of individual decisions and formal and informal societal institutions. The second part focuses on migrant workers on the labour market. In this part, the module discusses different types of migrants and the associated economic benefits, the impact of migrants on the domestic labour market, patterns of socio-economic integration and the underlying processes and the attitudes of the host population towards migrants. Further, the modules deals with issues arising from economic inequality and its impact on the fabric of contemporary society.

Part II – Markets, States and Work – introduces students to important concepts, theories and empirical research in economic sociology and the sociology of work. The first section of the module discusses classical interpretations of the rise of ‘market society’ before analysing different systems of capitalism and welfare in Europe and the role of the state in shaping economies and societies and responding to pressures for institutional change. The second section focuses on contemporary experiences of work and unemployment in Western Europe, including the relationship between skills and work, services work, flexible work and the impact of ‘globalisation’ on work. In particular, we engage with debates on change and continuity in working lives in ‘post-industrial’ Europe. Finally, in the third section, Western European labour markets are analysed through the prism of labour migration. We examine policies on high skilled and low skilled labour immigration, as well as foreign workers’ experiences in different labour markets.

Learning Objectives:

Students successfully completing the module will be able to:

  • Relate classical interpretations of market society with contemporary experiences at work;
  • Compare and contrast and critically analyse different
  • forms of capitalism in Western Europe;
  • Engage in debates on the future of welfare states
  • Critically analyse theories of change and continuity in contemporary work experiences;
  • Describe and account for different labour immigration policies in Western Europe;
  • Communicate effectively in both oral and written form through PowerPoints, discussions and research essays.

Lectures & Tutorials/ Contact hours:

One lecture and one tutorial per week.
Workload: Lectures: 22 hrs; Tutorials: 22 hrs; Exams/assignments: 22 hrs; Self-study: 284 hrs. Total: 350 hours.

Recommended Texts/ Key Reading:

  • .Blau, F., Ferber, M.A.  and  Winkler, A.E. (2006) The Economics of Women, Men and Work, Pearson Prentice Hall: Upper Saddle River.
  • Borjas, G.J. (1999) Heaven’s Door: Immigration policy and the American economy, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Edgell, S. (2012) The Sociology of Work. Continuity and Change in Paid and Unpaid Work. London: Sage
  • Haas, J. (2007) Economic Sociology: An Introduction. Abingdon: Routledge
  • Bosch, G., Lehndorff, S. and Rubery, J. (eds.) (2009) European Employment Models in Flux: A Comparison of Institutional Change in Nine European Countries. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan
  • Ruhs, M. and Anderson, B.  (2010) Who Needs Migrant Workers? Labour Shortages, Immigration and Public Policy. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


In Part I, students are assessed by an essay (40%) and seminar presentation (10%). Part II is assessed through exam (50%)

Penalties for late submission: Without an authorised extension, the mark given will be lowered by one grade

Examination: 1 x 3-hour end-of-year examination