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V SBOW 2020 Politics and ideologies of work. Warsaw 2020

Social Boundaries of Work. Politics and ideologies of work.

Date: October 28-29, 2020

Place: Warsaw, University of Warsaw, ZOOM

As part of the fifth edition of our conference, we are continuing the debate initiated during the conference in Gdańsk and we ask about what is political in the world of work and what are ideologies of work. Thus, the event will be part of an international, scientific discussion about the workplace in contemporary public debates and ways of defining work – what work is, and activities not formally recognized as work, which, however, contribute to the development of the economy. We are interested in:

  • analysis of work in the context of political changes, including processes such as the development of neoliberalism and populisms arising in response to it;
  • the politics of productive and reproductive work;
  • the limits and forms of political nature of the work process and power relations at the workplace;
  • politics and ways of depoliticizing social inequalities (class, gender, related to origin, age and disability) in the workplace;
  •  hegemony in the workplace in the context of modern, post-Fordist and Neo-Fordist management methods (lean production, lean administration) and in the context of the role of digitization in the management process;
  • ideologies of work and social identities as well as socio-economic and legal awareness of various categories of employees, including gender, disability, class position and origin;
  • labor policies and ideologies and the problems of representing employee interests (including civic, class and business variations of employee movements);
  • ideologies of collective labor relations in crisis conditions;
  • changes in the work ethos;
  • economic and political aspects of corporate social responsibility (including greenwashing and pinkwashing) and employee rights;
  • types of stakeholders and their impact on work ideology;
  • work culture and employee rights;
  • shaping labor market policies, work-related public policies and the role of stakeholders;
  • productive practices of consumers;
  • refusal to work as a form of political action;
  • the role of work sociology in contemporary society, with particular emphasis on shaping relationships with various interest groups in contemporary capitalism and the relationship between academic and applied sociology;
  • reflection on unconditional basic income in the context of the inevitable lack of work for all those seeking it, the development of unpaid work and the need to ensure decent social standards for all citizens.

At the center of our interest are ideologies of work understood as unspoken, although applicable rules shaping attitudes towards work, work-related norms, and disciplining discourses around work. Work ideologies shape discourse, indicating what types of work-related activities are normalized and which are indicated as abuse. That is why we are interested in the functioning of the ideology of work at every level of employee life – micro, meso and macro. This involves debates on the renewal of labor theory and labor resistance taking place at the interface of labor sociology and political economy. We are interested here in debates on managerial ideologies and counter-ideologies created by the employee side. An equal thread for us is the subject of reproductive work and tensions related to the diversity of interpretations of activities undertaken in the sphere of non-professional work, which, although not formally known as work, constitute a significant contribution to the functioning of the economy – such as care work, affective work, biological reproduction or sex work . We will look at how contemporary reproductive work is understood, what types of activities are contained in it and who it is performed by. We are also interested in what kind of social mechanisms make the work performed by customers and consumers invisible, as the concept of work within the gig economy disappears, what it is replaced and under which normalizing processes. The subject of consideration will also be actions taken as part of public policies related to ensuring work and social security for employees, as well as guaranteeing income, including unconditional basic income.

We are interested in the entirety of the ideology and political nature of work in an international and comparative context, combining it with the dimensions of social diversity such as origin, gender, class position, disability and others. We want to capture the multitude of transnational relationships and similarities of processes – transferring work ideology, transforming work ethos, using work for current political purposes and instrumental approach to work by emerging populisms, and erasing from the public debate certain types of activities that can be called work.

The concept of this internationally recognized conference series is based on constant discussion of the meaning and social boundaries of human work. Over the past years, the organizers have managed to gather a diverse, constantly expanding group of scientists from Poland and the world interested in the dynamics of changes related to the definition of work, the importance of work and work practices. Discussions take place in the context of global and European economic and social changes, with particular emphasis on the expansion of the liberal version of the capitalist economy and its criticism.

Planned post-conference publications and dissemination of conference content:

  1. Publication of positively reviewed articles based on the most interesting conference speeches in prestigious Polish scientific journals from the list of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education. In previous years, four special issues have been published devoted to conference topics in magazines: Przegląd Socjologiczny, Warsaw Forum of Economic Sociology, Humanizacja Pracy, Forum Socjologiczne.
  2. Publication of the most important voices in the discussion in foreign scientific journals.
  3. Preparation of a collective monograph in a publishing house from the list of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education (Poland). In 2017, a monograph presenting the most interesting conference presentations: Kolasińska, Elżbieta, Róg-Ilnicka, Joanna, Mrozowicki, Adam (2017) Work in the 21st century: formal and informal dimensions, was published in Wydawnictwo Naukowe Katedra.
  4. Recordings of plenary sessions and debates with journalists available on the conference websites and digital data repositories.
  5. Live streaming of major plenary sessions and debates with journalists.

The conference is co-financed from the “Excellent Science” programme of the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, agreement number DNK/SP/463947/2020



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