Employment: A Key Idea for Business and Society

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.

Available from Routledge 5th May


Woodcock is a leading analyst of contemporary work and with this book he has set out an accessible and thorough reflection on the topic. He skilfully cuts through common celebrations of modern work and gives readers the tools they need to build their own critical accounts of what work does and how it is being transformed.

Dr Nick Srnicek, Senior Lecturer in Digital Economy, King's College London

Jamie Woodcock’s Employment is a superb introduction to work and employment from a critical perspective. It has several distinguishing features. It is relatively brief yet broad, introducing a wide range of key topics, debates, and trends. The writing is clear, accessible, and engaging. It offers a perspective that is historical, global, and labour-centric. Finally, while the book engages a wide range of literature, including mainstream human resource management, it articulates a coherent and compelling theoretical approach rooted in labour process theory (to understand the history of employment) and imperialism (to understand the global division of labour).

Dr Matt Vidal, Reader in Sociology and Political Economy, Loughborough University

Work is a fundamental part of life in contemporary society, and yet the reality of the daily grind often goes unexamined. Woodcock's pioneering research has created new theoretical and methodological tools with which to understand the workplace, and now he provides an essential and wide-ranging introduction to the field as it stands today.

Callum Cant, Postdoctoral Researcher, Oxford Internet Institute

This book is a much needed tool for the study of employment. Spanning from history to global political economy and from critical management approaches to the treatment of contemporary issues, the text will offer students a clear and critical view of the field of employment and of its interdisciplinary nature.

Maurizio Atzeni, Centro de Estudios e Investigaciones Laborales,CEIL/CONICET, Argentina and Facultad de Economía y Negocios, Universidad Alberto Hurtado, Chile