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Labour power and labour process : contesting the marginality of the sociology of work

Thompson, P. and Smith, C. (2009) Labour power and labour process : contesting the marginality of the sociology of work. Sociology, 43 (5). pp. 913-930. ISSN 0038-0385

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Abstract

This article opens by suggesting that the decline in the sociology of work in the UK has been overstated; research continues, but in locations such as business schools. The continued vitality of the field corresponds with material changes in an increasingly globalized capitalism, with more workers in the world, higher employment participation rates of women, transnational shifts in manufacturing, global expansion of services and temporal and spatial stretching of work with advanced information communication technologies. The article demonstrates that Labour Process Theory (LPT) has been a crucial resource in the sociology of work, especially in the UK; core propositions of LPT provide it with resources for resilience (to counter claims of rival perspectives) and innovation (to expand the scope and explanatory power of the sociology of work). The article argues that the concept of the labour power has been critical to underpinning the sustained influence of labour process analysis.