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Seminar: Labour process analysis and new trends in employment

By Professor Chris Smith, Royal Holloway University of London

Thu 11 Oct 2018
1:00 - 2:15 pm


Room 929, 9/F, The Jockey Club Tower, HKU

Labour process theory developed in the US and Europe in the last quarter of the last century, and has been used to provide analysis of the role of labour as an active agent in the capitalist employment relationship. The theory rests on the indeterminacy of labour power, the embedded labour capacity within living labour, which as a commodity purchased by employers cannot be released without engaging with the will of the particular worker. Historically this engagement has been through a firm, and so-called standard employment relationship, where workers exchanged freedom of movement, for regularised employment with one employer. Currently we are witnessing a movement of labour out of the firm and fixed patterns of employment, as agency working, self-employment and more casual or insecure forms of trading labour power expand.

The talk will explore how these new trends in employment are challenging more firm-centric models of labour control and in a ‘gig or digital’ economy, new models of labour freedom and employer control are developing.

Chris Smith has been active in the annual International Labour Process Conference for many years. His work has appeared in Work, Employment and Society, Sociology, Human Relations, Work and Occupations, Theory and Society amongst others. He has published 14 books, and many book chapters about the labour process, class, professions, employment and new forms of working. He was educated in the UK and his first degree was in Sociology, and he was at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies at the University of Birmingham in the 1976, and gained his PhD in Sociology from Bristol University in 1982.

He has worked at Aston University and Royal Holloway University of London, and held visiting positions in Wollongong University, The University of Sydney, Griffith University and the University of Hong Kong.

*Co-sponsored by Robert Black College Outstanding Visiting Fellow

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