The Social Life of Work

12 October 2018 - 13 October 2018

SG1 and SG2, Alison Richard Building

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Asiya Islam (University of Cambridge)



This two day conference aims to generate engaged, imaginative, and creative scholarship on work. Through the pressing demands of global capitalist development, not only has waged work acquired a ‘moral charge’, it has also undergone transformation. While some of these transformations – emergence of the ‘gig’ economy, increased precariousness of work and unemployment, instability of employment – are globally observable, they manifest in disparate ways in different parts of the world, often rendering mainstream theories of work inapplicable to understandings of work in the Global South. 

Further, the focus on emerging or new forms and structures of work tends to side line continued (and new) forms of unpaid work, thus neglecting crucial analysis of inequalities of gender, race, class, caste and so on. In this context, this conference defines work broadly to encompass not only waged and unwaged work, but also repudiation of work, particularly in but not limited to the Global South. 

Through engaged qualitative scholarship on work and non-work, this conference seeks to develop theoretical and analytical insights into the organisation and experience of work as informed by social inequalities, hence ‘The Social Life of Work’. By facilitating conversation among scholars from various disciplines – History, Sociology, Anthropology, International Development, Gender Studies – this conference will generate critical interdisciplinary understandings of work and non-work through varied methodological, analytical, and theoretical tools. 




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH), Gates Cambridge, and the University of Cambridge's Department of Sociology.


Administrative assistance: