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Postgraudate research

We welcome students to apply for postgraduate studies in this broad area, following the University application process.

This group currently involves graduate students from the Department of Geography, the Department of Sociology, and the Faculty of Education. See our people page to identify the diverse expertise of potential supervisors.

Reading groups

Two longstanding reading groups, hosted by the Department of Sociology, are particularly relevant to the research theme of decent work and youth livelihoods. These are:

An interdisciplinary research support group which has been established by members of the Department of Sociology and also attracts students, postdocs and teaching staff from anthropology, psychology, management, human geography, law, politics and economics. Our intention is to create links between those who have similar research interests across subject areas such as: the sociology of work; industrial relations; labour market inequalities; employment and social class; non-employment and the future of work; digital work and the effects of AI; the transition into work from unemployment and non-employment, and through government active labour market programmes (ALMPs); job insecurity, work intensification and work-related well-being; and job quality among others.

The ILM group meets on a fortnightly basis during term time to discuss around recent publications or classical works in the sociology of work and social class over tea and snacks. We provide opportunities for our members to obtain feedback on their own work in progress, whether in the form of a publication or conference presentation. Once or twice a year, external speakers are also invited to present their research during special ILM sessions. In addition, a number of social activities are held during the year to encourage the exchange of ideas and the formation of friendships in a more casual setting.

Gender has long been recognised as an important analytic category in scholarship on work in various disciplines, including economics, geography, history, sociology and social anthropology. In particular, influential debates on productive/reproductive labour, the devaluation of feminised labour and occupational segregation have emerged through research on gender and work. Feminist literature has also drawn on diverse theoretical approaches to bring together the cultural and material dimensions of gendered work, as well as interrogate the intersections of gender with other social categories of difference such as class and ethnicity/race. While renewed academic interest in work, particularly growing precariousness and inequalities, is encouraging, it often glosses over such debates by focussing on waged labour or particular occupations/sectors, which can obscure movement in and out of work and diverse livelihood strategies across formal-informal economies, as well as wider questions of social reproduction.

In this research group, we therefore distinctly consider various aspects of ‘working lives’ rather than ‘work’ in relation to gender. We are particularly interested in rich qualitative research, whether historical or contemporary, that centres on the every-day experiences of work and social reproduction, and that spans workers’ involvement over their lifetimes in various kinds of work (paid and unpaid). The group meets for reading and discussion sessions every two weeks during term time as well as organises events from time to time. If you’re interested in joining, please write to