1st Edition

Shifting Categories of Work Unsettling the Ways We Think about Jobs, Labor, and Activities

Edited By Lisa Herzog, Bénédicte Zimmermann Copyright 2023
    300 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    300 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    What do human beings do when they work, how is work organized, and what are its multidimensional – economic, social, political, biographical, ecological – effects? We cannot answer these questions without drawing on the numerous categories that we use to describe work, such as "skilled" or "unskilled" work, "domestic work" or "wage labor," "gig work" or "platform work." Such categories are not merely theoretical labels as they also have practical effects. But where do these categories come from, what are their histories, how do they differ between countries, and how are they evolving? Shifting Categories of Work asks these questions, illuminating the many ways in which our societies categorize work. Written by sociologists, philosophers, historians and anthropologists as well as management and legal scholars, the contributions in this volume contrast different cultural practices and frameworks of categorizing work across different countries.

    Organized around the three axes of (un)organized work, (in)visible work and (in)valuable work, this book shows how ways of categorizing work express, but also recreate, lines of privilege and disadvantage – challenging our preconceived notions of what work is and what it could be, as it invites us to rethink the categories we use for understanding the work we do, and hence, to some extent, ourselves.


    Lisa Herzog and Bénédicte Zimmermann


    Part 1: (Un)organized Work

    1. Subordinate Work: How Does the Law Categorize Modern Labor Relationships?
    Linxin He

    2. Corporate Work: A Category That Has Lost Its Managerial Foundations?
    Blanche Segrestin

    3. Remote Work: From Employee Telework to Self-Employed Home-Based Work?
    Frédérique Letourneux and Gabrielle Schütz

    4. Platform Work: New Workers, New Rights?

    Sophie Bernard and Josépha Dirringer

    5. Teamwork: From Self-Managed to Lean and Agile Teams

    Martin Krzywdzinski and Maximilian Greb

    6. Democratized Work: Concepts and Practices
    Roberto Frega and Martin Kuhlmann


    Part 2: (In)visible Work

    7. Free Versus Unfree Labor: Challenging Their Boundaries
    Léa Renard and Theresa Wobbe

    8. Informal Work: A Relational Category

    Nicola Schalkowski and Marianne Braig

    9. Migrants’ Work: An Anthropological Perspective From West Africa
    Isaie Dougnon

    10. Domestic Work: The Invention of a Gendered Relationship

    Michel Lallement

    11. Unpaid Work: Expansion and Mobilization of a Feminist Category
    Maud Simonet

    12. Emotional Labor: Concept and Practical Categorizations in Light of COVID Critical Care Nursing
    Robert McMurray, Nicki Credland, Martyn Griffin, Peter Hamilton, Oonagh Harness and Kimberly Jamie


    Part 3: (In)valuable Work

    13. Dirty Work: Physical, Social and Moral Taint
    Natalia Slutskaya and Annilee M. Game

    14. Efficient Work: Exploring Algorithmic Approaches to Categorization

    Sasha Disko, Bruce Kogut, Hanyu Li and Jennifer Zhang

    15. Skilled and Unskilled Work: From Theoretical Concepts to Social Practices
    Philipp Grollmann and Michael Tiemann

    16. Entrepreneurship: Moral Categorizations Across Three Countries

    Constance Perrin-Joly and Laure de Verdalle

    17. Essential Work: A Category in the Making?

    Lisa Herzog, Katrin Sold and Bénédicte Zimmermann

    18. Sustainable Work: Foundations and Challenges of a Contested Category

    Maja Hoffmann


    Lisa Herzog is professor of political philosophy and works at the intersection of political philosophy and economic thought. Since 2019 she has worked in the Faculty of Philosophy and the Center for Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Groningen. She holds a master’s degree in economics from LMU Munich and a Master of Studies in philosophy and a Ph.D. degree in political theory from the University of Oxford. She has worked at or been invited to lecture at the universities of St. Gallen, Leuven, Frankfurt/Main, Utrecht and Stanford. She was a Rhodes Scholar (2007-2011) and in 2019 she received the Tractatus-Preis and the German Award for Philosophy and Social Ethics; in 2021 she received the Ammodo Science Award for her groundbreaking research. Herzog has published on the philosophical dimensions of markets (both historically and systemically), liberalism and social justice, ethics in organizations and the future of work. She is currently focusing on workplace democracy, professional ethics and the role of knowledge in democracies. Her publications include Inventing the Market: Smith, Hegel, and Political Theory (2013); Reclaiming the System: Moral Responsibility, Divided Labour, and the Role of Organizations in Society (2018).

    Bénédicte Zimmermann is professor of sociology at L'École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris and a Permanent Fellow at the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin. She holds a master’s degree in history from University Panthéon-Sorbonne in Paris, another one in political sciences and a Ph.D. degree in political science from Sciences Po Paris. Her main research interests are in the social history of categories of public action; the sociology of work, organizations and workers’ life courses; and epistemologies and methodologies of the social sciences. Her publications include La constitution du chômage en Allemagne. Entre professions et territoires (2001), Ce que travailler veut dire. Une sociologie des parcours et des capacités (2014).

    "Because so much discussion of work and how it is changing across the world involves analysts and policy makers employing work categories to understand what is happening, this book offers a vital contribution to ongoing and emerging debates. Those wanting a critical perspective on the various fashionable discussions that abound in analysis of work and its future will find this volume of especially notable interest."

    Tony Watson, Professor of Sociology, University of Nottingham

    "The key question in this exciting volume is one that has become extra important during our post-pandemic times: How do we look at work, and what consequences does this view have – for the people who work, for the rest of us, for society? The answers to this question turn out to be both complex and surprising. Highly recommended."

    Richard Swedberg, Professor of Sociology, Cornell University

    "This book offers an original perspective on the contemporary transformations of work. It proposes ingeniously to start from the categories used by social actors to talk about work, to organize it, to regulate its forms (such as remote work, dirty work, emotional labor, platform work...). Through the 18 proposed entries, all of which are equally fascinating, a kaleidoscope of tensions and tendencies affecting our social world takes shape."

    Eve Chiapello, Research Director at EHESS, Paris