1st Edition

Employment A Key Idea for Business and Society

By Jamie Woodcock Copyright 2023
    132 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    132 Pages 2 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Employment: A Key Idea for Business and Society introduces a topic that many of us take for granted yet is central to how we understand business and management. Most people work for the majority of their lives and, in recent years, employment has become a topic of popular debate, particularly asking what the future of work could be. Much of this has focused on the role of technology and automation, as well as the growth of the gig economy and new forms of work.

    This book provides new ways to think about our own experiences of work and debates on employment. The book covers the history of employment, key changes to work, and a global perspective. The major debates in employment are introduced, providing theories for readers to develop their own perspectives. In particular, the book reappraises management theory, the role of workers’ agency in changing work, surveys the state of current research and methods, and sketches out the key changes on the horizon for employment.

    This book will provide students with a critical introduction to employment, equipping them with the resources to research, understand, and rethink the topic.

    Introduction: What is Employment and Why Does it Matter?

    What is Employment?

    Chapter 1: A Critical History of Employment

    The Beginnings of Work

    The Industrial Revolution


    Scientific Management

    Labour Process Theory

    Struggles Over Employment in Britain

    The Employment Relationship Today

    Chapter 2: The Global Division of Labour

    Employment Across the World


    Reshaping Global Employment


    Informal Work

    Unpaid Labour

    A Global View of Employment

    Chapter 3: The Management of Work

    Human Resource Management

    Recruitment and Selection

    Pay and Rewards

    Retention, Engagement, and Turnover

    Employee Voice

    Management in Practice

    Chapter 4: Key Dynamics of Contemporary Employment

    State Regulation and Employment Rights

    The Public Sector and the State as Employer

    Post-Industrial Employment

    Emotional Labour

    Precarious Work

    Platforms and the Gig Economy

    Trade Union Decline and Renewal

    Chapter 5: Researching Employment

    A Brief History of Researching Employment

    Research Questions for Understanding Employment

    Research Ethics

    Collecting Data

    Quantitative research



    Why Research on Employment Matters

    Chapter 6: Future(s) of Employment

    The Different Futures of Work?

    Academic Exercises


    Dr Jamie Woodcock is a senior lecturer at the University of Essex and a researcher based in London. He is the author of The Fight Against Platform Capitalism (University of Westminster Press, 2021), The Gig Economy (Polity, 2019), Marx at the Arcade (Haymarket, 2019), and Working the Phones (Pluto, 2017). His research is inspired by workers’ inquiry and focuses on labour, work, the gig economy, platforms, resistance, organising, and video games. He is on the editorial board of Notes from Below and Historical Materialism.