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Thematic groups

We present the proposal of thematic groups submitted to conference organisers. We invite you to submit paper proposals to thematic groups marked as open. Abstracts may also be submitted outside the indicated groups. Please indicate in the submission (abstract) your preferred thematic group or indicate that the abstract is submitted outside the list of thematic groups. The link to online registration: https://forms.gle/ufR2YxjtLcXUQZzh8

 

Open thematic groups

Accessibility of the world of work for persons with disabilities

Open thematic group
Affiliated by the Sociology of Disability Section of the Polish Sociological Association
Anna Drabarz, Polish Disability Forum
Ewa Giermanowska, University of Warsaw
Magdalena Kocejko, Warsaw School of Economics

In OECD countries, one in seven working-age adults identifies as a person with a disability, and the percentage is also significant and growing among young people (OECD 2022). Despite the ratification of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006), persons with disabilities continue to have difficulty finding their way in the labour market, many are excluded from meaningful work and have low-income levels. The employment rate remains low. In 2019, in 32 OECD countries, about one in four persons with high support requirements and one in two persons with moderate support requirements had jobs. Overall, the employment rate for persons with disabilities was twenty-seven percentage points lower than for persons without disabilities, a gap that has remained steady over the past decade (OECD 2022). The persistent employment gap for persons with disabilities is accompanied by an education gap and a skills gap.  

Over the past decade, many countries have reformed their disability benefit systems, but the aggregate impact of the reforms on employment for persons with disabilities has been limited. In this thematic session, we would like to discuss topics related to the employment and working conditions of persons with disabilities, as well as issues of research methodologies and practice. The proposed topic areas are:    

  • The impact of neoliberal reforms and crises (including pandemic, war, climate crisis) and changes associated with the development of modern technologies on the employment and working conditions of persons with disabilities. 
  • The role of persons with disabilities, academic and non-academic experts, representatives of labour movements, civil society organisations in efforts to improve the quality of workplaces and protect the labour rights of underprivileged groups.
  • Critical and traditional approaches in the study of work and employment of persons with disabilities. New methodologies and ethics in the study of vulnerable groups.  

We invite presentations of empirical national and international research results, theoretical and methodological considerations, including critical approaches and diagnoses. 

Deprofessionalisation across Europe and the globe: mobilising and organising young and early career workers

Open thematic group
Orestis Papadopoulos, Manchester Metropolitan University
Edward Yates, University of Sheffield
Jason Heyes, University of Sheffiel
Hayley Reid, University of Sheffield 

This stream focuses on deprofessionalization across Europe and globally.  It seeks to bring together researchers examining how deprofessionalisation is impacting the job quality, motivation, and individual and collective actions of young and early career workers. 

Deprofessionalisation is defined as the process wherein professional occupations undergo decline in one or more areas of: pay, remuneration and reward; discretion and autonomy; social prestige and status; or career progression and development opportunities.  Deprofessionalisation is also characterised by an increase in work intensity; managerial prerogative and bureaucracy; and performance management (Stainback et al, 2011; Kirkpatrick et al, 2021). Deprofessionalisation is not a new phenomenon, as is demonstrated by research from the 1970s on proletarianisation and the undermining of employment status in professional occupations (Oppenheimer, 1973). More recent research on the topic has identified processes of financialisation (Bebris & Petri, 2020) and marketisation (Greer & Umney, 2022) as drivers of deprofessionalisation. 

Shifts in European and global political economy over the past four decades – chiefly the increased power of capital relative to labour – have led to increased occupational deprofessionalisation, with major implications for work, labour markets, and society more generally. Deprofessionalisation is especially impactful on young and early career workers, who are most likely to experience lower levels of pay, and also contractual insecurity and over-work as they seek to secure permanent and stable roles with an occupation or profession. Further, young and early career workers are less likely have experienced a wide range of workers conditions due to their age and career stage, and therefore may accept poor conditions as normal.   These problems are evident, for example, in UK Higher Education wherein the casualisation of academic work is a structural and endemic feature of market-based model. In their attempt to be competitive and minimize costs/maximize revenues in context of limited State funding and external research revenues, universities increasingly use precarious employment contracts which now constitute the new norm in research projects and teaching for a growing number of universities and subjects (Evans et al, 2021; Tholen, 2022; Lieutad and Slothuus, 2023). As a result, many early career academics face employment insecurity, low pay, lack of career prospects, long-working hours as well as frequent mobility and personal sacrifices to with the aim of obtaining permanent, open-ended employment (Ivancheva et al 2019; Bonello and Wånggren, 2023). 

Deprofessionalisation is not however mono-directional – newly emergent occupations can  professionalise e.g. through groups deploying interlinking techniques of occupational closure, creation and defence of a distinct body of knowledge, and development of internal- and external-facing strategies of control (Larson, 1977).  Occupations which have experienced decline can also undergo rejuvenation.  In all of these processes the role of professional member organisations and trade unions can be critical in defending and improving working conditions (Simms and Holgate, 2015). 

This stream is accepting submissions from researchers exploring deprofessionalisation and associated topics of job quality for young and early career workers in any national or international context, and how these workers organise and mobilise in response to the pressures of deprofessionalisation. Areas of focus could include: 

  • International and comparative cases that examine the triggers and outcomes of young and early career workers’ collective mobilizations.  
  • The impact of national-specific factors on propensity to mobilize/organise against deprofessionalisation and related aspects of job quality e.g. regulatory systems, legal framework, prevailing political economy.
  • Historic or macroeconomic factors which have shaped contemporary labour markets for young and early career workers. 
  • The role of union strategies and tactics in attracting young and early career workers and make them engaged in or disengaged from collective action. 
  • The perceptions and motivations of young and early career workers in relation to career choice, progression, and workplace behaviour.
  • The construction of professional identities in the and the ways they promote or  hinder collective mobilization and action amongst workers.  

Bibliography  

Besbris, M., & Petre, C. (2020). Professionalizing contingency: How journalism schools adapt to deprofessionalization. Social Forces, 98(4), 1524-1547.
Bonello, K., & Wånggren, L. (2023). Limbo: Precarious Livelihoods, Teaching and Research. In Working Conditions in a Marketised University System: Generation Precarity (pp. 69-118). Cham: Springer Nature Switzerland.
Das, R. J. (2023). Capitalism, Class Struggle and/in Academia. Critical Sociology, 08969205231152560.
Evans, C., Rees, G., Taylor, C., & Fox, S. (2021). A liberal higher education for all? The massification of higher education and its implications for graduates’ participation in civil society. Higher Education, 81, 521-535.
Gallas, A. (2018). Precarious academic labour in Germany: termed contracts and a new Berufsverbot. Global Labour Journal, 9(1).
Greer, I., & Umney, C. (2022). Marketization: How Capitalist Exchange Disciplines Workers and Subverts Democracy. Bloomsbury Publishing.
Ivancheva, M., Lynch, K., & Keating, K. (2019). Precarity, gender and care in the neoliberal academy. Gender, Work & Organization, 26(4), 448-462.
Kirkpatrick, I., Aulakh, S., & Muzio, D. (2021). The Evolution of Professionalism as a Mode of Regulation: Evidence from the United States. Work, Employment and Society
Larson, M. S. (1977). The rise of professionalism: A sociological analysis. UCAL Press, USA.
Oppenheimer M (1973) Proletarianization of the professional. In: Halmos P (ed.) Professionalization and Social Change. Keele: Keele University Press, 213–227
Stainback, K., Tomaskovic-Devey, D., & Skaggs, S. (2010). Organizational approaches to inequality: Inertia, relative power, and environments. Annual Review of Sociology, 36, 225-247.
Tholen, G. (2022). Modern Work and the Marketisation of Higher Education. Policy Press.
Yates, E. (2023). Developing or degrading young workers? How business strategy and the labour process shape job quality across different industrial sectors in England. Work, Employment and Society, 37(5), 1186-1205.

Emotions in organizations and professional work

Open thematic group
Beata Pawłowska, University of Lodz

The subject of interest in the sociology of organizations and the sociology of work are primarily the social determinants of the functioning of organizations and their management processes, including the dynamics of processes taking place in these organizations. Modern organizations wanting to function efficiently on the market in conditions of growing competition, wanting to maintain leadership positions while retaining the best employees, must solve dilemmas that arise with changes in political and economic conditions. An important factor influencing the activities of organizations are the emotions of their employees and the related problems regarding the psycho-social functioning of individuals. Employee well-being is important, and managing the emotions of employees and/or by employees allows the company to create a competitive advantage. The combination of concepts developed in the sociology of organizations, sociology of work, sociology of management and the increasingly noticeable sociology of emotions allows us to capture and interpret the behavior of a social actor operating in the social world, including in organizational contexts. Evidence of the issue of emotions in the context of work, economy or organization can be found in the works of Jacek Barbalet Emotions and Sociology – 2002, or Beata Pawlowska, 2013 – Social emotions in the work of a teacher and sales representative and 2020 – Teacher’s work from the perspective of a qualitative researcher. Myths and reality. The problem of emotions in social life is currently considered one of the most promising areas of sociological analysis.  

During the group’s deliberations, we will look at the current labor market through the prism of currently ongoing disputes and conflicts. One of them is the work of immigrants on the Polish labor market, which arouses many emotions in public discourse. These emotions are visible both on the part of employees and the employing organizations. It will also be interesting to pay attention to how the COVID-19 pandemic changed work organization and affected the well-being of employees and their emotions.  

The work of the proposed thematic group will enable the exchange of experiences of the scientific community whose areas of interest include the sociology of work, organization and/or the sociology of emotions. They will also enable an overview of the state of research on emotions felt in the workplace and the problems resulting from the lack of effective management of them. 

The topics discussed during the group’s work will revolve around, among others, the following issues: 

  • Theoretical and methodological aspects of the affective paradigm of organizational sociology, work sociology and sociology of emotions, 
  • Emotions in the work in the academic world and the world of non-academic work 
  • Operation of the organization in changing environmental conditions, 
  • Subjectivity and objectification of the employee, 
  • Emotions at work in the post-pandemic reality, 
  • Emotions related to managing diversity in the workplace, 
  • Stress and burnout, 
  • Managing emotions in organizations, 
  • Emotion management and employee well-being, 
  • Labor market and emotions 
  • Other aspects and manifestations of the impact of emotions on social interactions and group relationships in the work environment. 

 We propose a multidimensional look at the above problems. In-depth theoretical analyzes containing proposals for possible research directions and presentations of research results taking into account the qualitative and quantitative paradigm of sociological analysis will be welcomed. We also plan to publish the most inspiring texts. We hope that during the meeting it will be possible to present, first of all, the current state of empirical research devoted to diagnosing the condition of the “emotional state” of Polish society in the work situation. The group’s work should contribute to the further integration of the community of researchers interested in the sociology of emotions in connection with the sociology of work and the sociology of organizations and the consolidation of these sociological sub disciplines in Poland.

Human rights in the XXIst century and the world of work

Open thematic group
Barbara Markowska-Marczak, Collegium Civitas
Jacqueline Kacprzak, Collegium Civitas

The dynamics of human rights development in recent years is multi-faceted. In the first two decades of the 21st century, the international system of human rights protection expanded to include new provisions protecting selected social groups, such as migrant workers or people with disabilities (UN conventions of 2003 and 2008). In the Council of Europe system, significant treaties that entered into force after 2000 were the Convention on Action against Trafficking in Human Beings (2008) and the so-called Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (2014). As for the rights of European Union citizens, since 2009 they have been able to benefit from the guarantees regarding dignity, freedom, equality, solidarity, civil rights and justice formulated in the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. 

In national legislation, in the context of respect for human rights, special attention has been paid to protection against modern forms of slavery, forced labor and child labor. Additionally, we are observing the development of the third generation of rights and recognizing new aspects of social life as human rights, such as the right to water (2010) and the right to live in a clean, healthy and sustainable environment (2022). 

In the context of the world of work in the 21st century, human rights include not only traditionally understood employee rights, such as freedom of association, right to form and join the trade unions, and the right to decent working conditions, but also a number of other rights. In our opinion, the above-mentioned changes in the social stock of knowledge concerning human rights indicate new trends also entering the world of work. These challenges are also related to recognizing of human rights aspects in more general trends such as just transition, climate change, digitalization and the new technologies. Therefore, we invite scientists, researchers and activists to deliver papers focused on the following issues:

  • Multi-aspect respect for human rights in the development of new technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI) systems.  
  • Strategies for heightened human rights due diligence in situations of armed conflict (example of business behavior after the start of the war in Ukraine) and unstable geopolitical situation (e.g. in the Middle East). 
  • Human rights in the world of work and climate change. 
  • Sociological research on business and human rights as a direction of development for the sociology of human rights. 

During the discussion in the thematic group, we would like to also consider, among others on more specific questions about the role of human rights knowledge and education in the field of business and human rights: 

  • What is the role of human rights experts, scientists and researchers today in building an accurate understanding of human rights in the world of work?  
  • How to effectively educate about human rights in the world of work?  
  • What aspects of employee rights are most at risk today?  
  • Is it possible to critically examine corporate responsibility in terms of human rights due diligence?  
  • What research methodologies can be used to study issues related to business and human rights? 

Popularization of remote work in critical perspective

Open thematic group
Piotr Binder, Polish Academy of Sciences

Over the last twenty years, remote work has gradually gained popularity. Still, it began to be practiced on a large scale only during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Due to the epidemic restrictions introduced in public and economic life, there was a significant spread of work performed outside the employer’s premises via ICT. This process was dynamic, and the number of people working remotely changed frequently. At the same time, decisions to switch to remote work or return to on-site mode were often made without consulting employees. During this time, remote work itself was also diversifying. Various forms of it have crystallized (including regular remote work, occasional remote work, hybrid work, work from anywhere, or workation), which led to difficulties in measuring the scale of this phenomenon. 

In many countries in Europe and worldwide, temporary regulations of remote work adopted at the beginning of the pandemic were soon replaced by new labor laws. Depending on the national context, they defined remote work, employer-employee relations, and the related rights and obligations differently. In many countries, rules emphasize the need for equal treatment of employees performing duties on-site and remotely. At the same time, groups that cannot be denied access to remote work if the work in their position can be performed remotely are also often considered (e.g., parents of young children, caregivers of sick people, or vulnerable employees). Although remote work is only possible in selected professional contexts, its popularization and subsequent legal regulation stimulate further multidimensional transformations in the modern labor market and work culture. 

The proposed thematic group aims to critically reflect on issues related to remote work both during and after the pandemic. We invite papers presenting current empirical research results and theoretical or methodological approaches. We particularly (but not exclusively) welcome conributions dealing with issues such as: 

  • Long-term implications of remote work 
  • Relationships of remote workers with their employers (availability of remote work, voluntariness, equal treatment) 
  • Remote work and the possibility of articulating employees’ interests 
  • Remote work management 
  • Remote work legal regulations and their implications 
  • Informal remote work practices 
  • Conditions and quality of remote work 
  • Supervision of remote workers 
  • Remote work and boundaries between professional and private life 
  • Remote work at various life stages 
  • New phenomena (e.g., workation) and the future of remote work 

Professional groups in times of polycrisis

Open thematic group
Beata Kowalczyk, Adam Mickiewicz University
Justyna Zielińska, The Maria Grzegorzewska University

Recent years have been marked by an accumulation of overlapping global and local crises, such as the climate crisis, the coronavirus pandemic, the migration crisis, the demographic crisis, the outbreak of war in Ukraine, the rise in popularity of right-wing political parties and their introduction of extremely conservative legislation, a sharp rise in inflation, or changes in technological solutions that are transforming the structure of the labour market. Morin (1993) defines such a set of negative circumstances as a polycrisis. The outbreak of one crisis triggers another(s) as a result of the ‘domino effect’. They overlap and interact, leading to disruptions and conflicts in socio-economic life, with implications for the well-being of different social groups. Marxist theory emphasises that systemic crises are an inherent feature of the capitalist system of production, and for workers they mean uncertainty that limits their ability to plan their own lives (e.g. Marx and Engels 1949). Crises lead to structural changes in the labour market and have different effects on the working conditions of different occupational groups. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the deterioration of working conditions in the health sector. It has led to an increase in responsibilities, longer working hours, risk of infection, stress and pressure from authorities and patients. In turn, the intersection of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ideologisation of teaching introduced by the right-wing government (PiS) and the influx of refugees from Ukraine have changed working conditions in the Polish education sector. Workers in this sector had to deal with distance learning, political censorship and the inclusion of Ukrainian children and young people in the education system. The cases of these two professions are a stark illustration of the inefficiency of institutions and the weakness of the systemic response in the face of polycrisis. People in the labour market bear the burden of coping with emergencies and absorbing the shock of crises. 

The main theme of this session is the impact of polycrisis on the occupational situation of different groups of workers in the changing labour market. We invite academics who are researching how occupational groups in different sectors of the labour market deal with crises. We ask how polycrisis affect working conditions, quality and safety, professional identity, professional development and organisations representing workers’ communities. 

(Re)Defining Work in the Internet Age: Unveiling Dynamics of Online Labor Markets

Open thematic group
Kaja Kaźmierska, University of Lodz
Kamil Łuczaj, University of Lodz
Aleksandra Drążczyk, University of Lodz

Our thematic group delves into the multifaceted dimensions of work concentrated around and within the internet. By scrutinizing the conceptualization and definition of work in the context of the internet, addressing issues of recognition, validation, and legitimacy, and examining how the nature of internet-based work challenges traditional notions of employment, labor rights, and social protections, we aim to facilitate discussions on the redefinition of labor in the digital era. The group endeavors to unravel the complexities inherent in work related to the internet, with a specific focus on occupations such as internet creators. Additionally, it explores the broader implications of work carried out or facilitated through online platforms. 

We invite submissions encompassing, but not limited to, the following topics: 

  • Careers of social media influencers – a social, economic, and cultural analysis, 
  • “New professions” arising from ongoing digitalization processes in brick and mortar office settings, 
  • Emerging professions within the digital realm and their impact on traditional labor structures, 
  • Remote work facilitated by internet connectivity: changes since its sudden rise during the COVID-19 pandemic, 
  • Dynamics of the online gig economy and the influence of digital platforms on contemporary work experiences. 

The world of work and therapeutic culture

Open thematic group
Agata Krasowska, University of Wroclaw
Katarzyna Waniek, University of Lodz 

This session is addressed to all those who explore the connections between the world of work and therapeutic culture as well as therapeutic discourse in their different configurations, at different levels and with different intensities. Taking as a starting point the findings of Nicolas Rose who claims that nowadays in liberal, democratic and capitalistic societies […] the stewardship of human conduct has become an inartistically psychological activity we seek submissions for papers that discuss the interaction between therapeutic culture and neoliberal form of governance that promotes self-realisation, self-responsibility, entrepreneurial self and creativity. Submissions that will focus on the impact of discipline and techniques of surveillance and subjugation on organizational practices and power relations. We are especially interested in biographical accounts and personal documents that expose the influence of the “psy”-sciences on individual experiences and the way people account for their everyday life practices, personal identity choices and biographical orientations – with particular emphasis on the sphere of work. It is also important for us to focus on and critically analyse different tools to identify and determine the nature and extent of the interplay between individual experiences and therapeutic culture that may be visible not only via its specific vocabulary. We are also interested in the following areas: 

  • The therapeutic spirit of neoliberalism: living and working in neoliberal management policies; 
  • Therapeutic role of work; 
  • Work efficiency and Generation Z’s approach to work; 
  • The neoliberal homo economicus: the idea of potential and entrepreneurship, which in capitalism defines who one is; 
  • Creating yourself: maximizing the potential of individuals, life management and self-care; 
  • Work as a tool for self-fulfilment and development of human capital for use on the labour market – the individual as capital in the labour market and self-fulfilment compulsion;  
  • The requirement to work intensively on yourself and develop your own agency at work; 
  • The idea of autotelic work, which does not result from any compulsion and is an extension of one’s own passions, and which masks the principle of efficiency; 
  • The idea of mobility as one of the most important ideas of capitalism encouraging mobility in order to seek attractive employment; 
  • The subsumption of work into capital, which is manifested in the contemporary organization of work, which has made the employee’s subjectivity the most valuable capital. It requires creativity, which extends to all areas of life, i.e. working on one’s own abilities and interpersonal relationships (primarily in the economic sense), increasing chances on the labour market. 

Closed thematic groups

Continuity in crisis? Polycrisis and the world of work in Poland in 2020-2024 

Closed thematic group
Adam Mrozowicki, Uniwersytet Wrocławski
Jacek Burski, Uniwersytet Wrocławski

The proposed thematic group will debate the impact of socio-economic crises that hit Poland after 2020 on the selected aspects of socio-economic consciousness, job quality and life strategies of workers.  The concept of polycrisis became popular in academia and the media after the outbreak of the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic which brought attention to the interactions and amplification of different types of crisis phenomena. Some crises, including the global climate crisis, the cost-of-living crisis especially for socially disadvantaged groups or the crawling crisis of public services under neoliberalism, are long-term, chronic processes. Other crises, such as the Covid-19 pandemic or the full-fledged war stagged by Russia against Ukraine, were of much more sudden nature and their outbreak seemed to undermine the very foundations of social, political and economic orders involved. The question we would like to ask during this panel is what is the effect of the overlapping crises on the world of work in Poland with particular attention to the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic? The papers to be presented reflect the results of the research project „COV-WORK: Socio-economic consciousness, work experiences and coping strategies of Poles in the context of the post-pandemic crisis.” The selected papers will concern the socio-economic mentality of the working Poles, the quality of their jobs and coping strategies in key public services (education, health care, social care, logistics), the evolution of social dialogue and social conflicts at work after 2020 and the discourse around the crisis and work in the main Polish media. Overall, the analysis in the project calls for rethinking the concept of the polycrisis and consider its structural, institutional, discursive and biographical aspects which contribute to more chronicity and path-dependency than deep and far-reaching social changes.   

The proposed list of contributions: 

  • The (poly)crisis – game changer or continuation? Interlinked crises in the world of work in Poland (Adam Mrozowicki, University of Wrocław) 
  • The pandemic crisis in media discourse in the years 2020-2023 (Mateusz Karolak, University of Wrocław) 
  • The socio-economic consciousness of working Poles in the post-pandemic situation (Juliusz Gardawski, Warsaw School of Economics) 
  • The selected aspects of job quality in essential public services during the COVID-19 pandemic and following crises (Jan Czarzasty, Alicja Palęcka [Warsaw School of Economics], Aleksandra-Drabina-Różewicz, Szymon Pilch [University of Wrocław] 
  • The revival of social dialogue or the trigger of social conflicts? Polycrisis in the Polish industrial relations (Adam Mrozowicki, University of Wrocław, Jan Czarzasty, Warsaw School of Economics)  
  • Biographical experiences and coping strategies of essential workers in healthcare, social care, education and logistics (Jacek Burski, Agata Krasowska, University of Wrocław)
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