The high-quality academic books, upper-level student texts and journal articles on our Business, Management and Economics list offer fresh perspectives on the economy, the future of work and organisations, and the relationship between business and addressing global social challenges.
The list is home to a number of series including Organizations and Activism and Feminist Perspectives on Work and Organization, all of which are edited by leading scholars from the field, along with our journals in the area: Journal of Public Finance and Public Choice, Work in the Global Economy and Global Political Economy.
Business, Management and Economics
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This chapter centres on the global financial crisis of 2007/08. It explores how the crisis challenged the post-Thatcherite paradigm that New Labour had adopted. It explores how the party’s proximity to the existing economic model made it difficult for it to adopt a radically new approach. As in 1931, the party, when faced with a crisis of capitalism, opted to defend existing institutions rather than seek to establish a new economic orthodoxy. However, the chapter highlights how Labour’s response to the crisis, for example through bank bailouts and the nationalisation of Northern Rock, drew on Keynesian influences, although as the subsequent sale of that bank demonstrated it did not ultimately diminish Labour’s belief in the market.
This chapter centres on the Second World War, the sterling crisis of 1947 and the Labour Party’s 13 years in opposition from 1951. Like the First World War, the Second World War offered Labour a route to government, overcoming many of the problems associated with the split of 1931. The war also provided public support and legitimacy for a nationalisation programme. However, Labour encountered challenges to implementing its full programme, and adopted a consolidatory approach following the sterling crisis, including limiting plans for further nationalisations. Defeat in 1951 and 1955 led to a new wave of revisionist thought, which sought to redefine socialism and challenged fundamentals such as Labour’s commitment to nationalisation and Clause IV of the party’s constitution.
This chapter explores the Taff Vale case and the First World War. It outlines different factions that existed within the early Labour Party and explores how the trade unions came to find a political home there. Prior to the First World War, the Labour Party owed much of its electoral success to agreements forged with the Liberals and adopted a defensive position with respect to workers and trade union rights. The Taff Vale case encouraged the party to look towards representation as a means of furthering working-class concerns. The First World War gave Labour’s leaders a seat in government for the first time, as part of the coalition. By the end of the war, largely due to a split within the Liberal Party, Labour emerged as the main opposition to the Conservative Party.
This chapter centres on the devaluation of sterling in 1967 and 1976 and the ‘Winter of Discontent’ in 1978/79. Labour adopted a technocratic approach to economic policy on its return to office in 1964. It sought to combat some of the institutions that were seen as obstructing the socialist cause, and create a new framework for economic governance. These plans were frustrated by wider economic circumstances, before Labour encountered increased tensions with the trade unions. Labour’s 1969 White Paper In Place of Strife (Castle, 1969) generated a Cabinet split and had to be withdrawn. The fractured relationship between the party and the trade unions was partly mended during Labour’s period in opposition between 1970 and 1974, but compounded when the next Labour government sought to impose wage restraint in 1978. The resulting crisis would propel Labour from office for 18 years.
This chapter takes as its starting point the three-decades-long growth of vertical, class-specific inequalities. At the bottom of the social hierarchy large social groups are forming who are excluded not only from regular gainful employment but also stripped of basic social and democratic rights; from the perspective of mainstream society, they simply appear ‘superfluous’. But how can this structural heterogeneity of social dislocations and disparities be conceptualized in a scientifically accurate and helpful way? It is obvious from countless debates that sociology and the social sciences currently lack adequate theoretical concepts and analytical tools to capture the confusing melange of social divisions, social polarization, widespread precarity and exclusion. This chapter attempts a step towards a resolution of this issue by considering the key concepts of ‘exclusion’ and ‘precarity’ in a way that carves out both their differences from and intersections with the concept of class.
This afterword draws together the content of the book by highlighting the relevance of studies of precarity in exploring contemporary social phenomena. It emphasizes the role of the theoretical approaches suggested in the book in understanding changes that have occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic. These include the transfer of risks to individuals, which are inherent in the public health response to the pandemic; extensive interventions of states into labour markets; claims of a withdrawal of workers from employment; the growing profile of digital technologies in organizing work; and the attempt by the precarious to establish new forms of agency and subjectivity.
Sociological research often suffers from an over-reliance on classification as an end in itself. The idea of ‘precarity’ is also susceptible to this problem. Precarity is often defined as a category, or state, which people can either be inside or outside. When this happens, the analysis risks understating the differences between people who are judged ‘precarious’, and overstating the differences between them and people who are not. By contrast, this chapter argues that the concept of precarity has value primarily when used to describe a situation or conjuncture. Based on a loosely Marxian methodological approach, and drawing on insights from empirical studies in social work and cultural work, it sketches out what it might mean to analyze precarity as a characteristic of a given conjuncture rather than a classificatory tool.
This chapter identifies two main lines of inquiry among sociological approaches to precarious work: studies on ‘precarity’, which in the European context mainly focus on the erosion of standard employment relationships, and those on ‘precariousness’, which are more interested in the subjective experience that affects not only labour but the entire life of the subject. Using the results of a series of research projects as the starting point, this chapter discusses how precariousness is experienced and represented, including in light of digitalization processes during the pandemic. In particular, the precarious subject is conceptualized as a ‘precarious-enterprise worker’, impelled to become the sole person responsible for their destiny and to invest totally in the production of their subjectivity. By adopting a feminist perspective, a reflection is proposed on how potential forms of resistance to precariousness can be constructed through social relations based on affective and corporeal encounters with others.