SOSGEO4604 – Work and workers. Global perspectives

Schedule, syllabus and examination date

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Course content

Both globalization and effects of the “New Economy”, emphasizing flexibility and deregulation of labour markets, have spurred a renewed interest in work and labour studies the past couple of decades. In this course we combine perspectives from the Sociology of Work and the newly formed discipline of Labour Geography.

The starting point is a thorough discussion of the nature of contemporary capitalist societies, including different theoretical perspectives. Contextual differences regarding the regulation dimensions of countries are emphasized; different rules and regulations of working life contribute to the shaping of variegated capitalisms. Labour regimes, and thus working conditions, change character according to scale of production and space, the sociocultural characteristics of place.

Empirical examples are drawn from a variety of contexts, and several contemporary discourses are dealt with:

  • The critique of the place of labour in neo-classical theoretical models

  • Effects of globalization and neo-liberal policies on work regimes
  • The transition of employment relations and the nature of precarious work
  • Changes in technology of production shaping new work environments and intensification of work
  • Gender and work; how “new capitalisms” change the working life and form new challenges for reproductive work and gender relations
  • The agency of labour, how workers through various forms of resistance shape working life.

Learning outcome

Knowledge aims

  • You will learn how concepts developed by the Sociology of Work and Labour Geography provide analytic tools that may fruitfully be applied in empirical research

  • You will be shown how the analytical framework of labour regimes may bridge the gap between the workers experiences “at the shop floor” and regulatory levels and the levels of production and management strategies
  • You may better understand the nature of contemporary capitalist societies, and how the driving forces of capitalism may have different outcomes in different contexts
  • You will learn how rules and regulations, as exemplified in the work contract, shape the working life
  • You will understand better the spread of precariousness and intensification of work under contemporary capitalism
  • You will understand better the interface between gender relations, labour markets and welfare regimes
  • You will be introduced to various forms of workers’ resistance to contemporary capitalisms


  • You will be encouraged to understand theory in the field of work and labour studies, as presented in the course literature
  • You will be encouraged to link intermediate and grand theories when discussing empirical examples of work and working conditions

Learning aims

  • To improve the students’ understanding of the complexities of socio-economic change, and improve their ability to convey this complexity in writing as well as in discussions
  • To enable the student to argue pro et con different positions in many debates, and to encourage openness to valid arguments in any paradigm
  • To enable the students to express themselves independently and with a high level of precision
  • The student should become a critical thinker, with a clear understanding of central concepts of the discourses
  • Throughout the course, the student should acquire a taste for dilemmas of labour regulation, both at workplace and at national levels. This is a true sign of mature thinking


This course is a part of the Master's program in Human Geography and Sociology.

Students in other master programs may apply to be accepted as guest students. Please note that the following special restrictions apply:

  • applicant must be admitted to a master program.
  • this course will be taken as a part of their Master's degree.
  • A confirmation from the students student adviser must be attached to the application.
  • there are available places in this course.

Applications must be sent to the Department by August 26th.

If you already have completed our Master's programme in Human Geography and want to take additional master courses, please read this


Lectures and seminars.


6-hour written exam.

Examination support material

Students may use dictionaries at this exam. Dictionaries must be handed in before the examination. Please read regulations for dictionaries permitted at the examination.

Language of examination

The examination text is given in English, and you submit your response in English, Norwegian, Swedish or Danish.

Grading scale

Grades are awarded on a scale from A to F, where A is the best grade and F is a fail. Read more about the grading system.

Explanations and appeals

Ask for explanation of your grade in this course:

Resit an examination

If you are sick or have another valid reason for not attending the regular exam, we offer a postponed exam later in the same semester.

See also our information about resitting an exam.

Withdrawal from an examination

It is possible to take the exam up to 3 times. If you withdraw from the exam after the deadline or during the exam, this will be counted as an examination attempt.

Special examination arrangements

Application form, deadline and requirements for special examination arrangements.


The course is subject to continuous evaluation. At regular intervals we also ask students to participate in a more comprehensive evaluation.

Facts about this course






Autumn 2015


Autumn 2015

Teaching language