Work in a Globalising World: Gender, Mobility, Markets
5th Annual Seminar in History and Sociology of the
Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology (BGHS)
8-10 April 2013, Bielefeld University, Germany
The concept of work has been a key topic in both history and sociology since the early days of these disciplines. Up to the end of the 20th century the sociology of work as well as social history and the history of labour analysed work within the framework of the nation state and national institutional settings. During the last decade, however, it has become clear that this perspective is too narrow:
Global history has shown that work is too heterogeneous a concept to be understood within national or regional borders. During the epochs of colonisation and industrialisation, working environments and the respective labour markets underwent changes that were interwoven on global, national, regional, and local levels. Mobility studies have revealed that in the 19 th and 20 th centuries, long-distance migration beyond the slave trade increased dramatically, even though during this period there were alternating decades of acceleration and slowdowns, and the relations between mobility within a certain society and transnational migration varied considerably.
Global history has recently again brought to the fore basic questions about the concept of work itself: What constitutes work and how is it differentiated from non-work? Who has the authority to define this? How is work constituted in different societies and different world regions? What counts as legitimate work, and what is considered illegal? How do the ways work is constituted and defined affect the life cycles of individuals, the relations within families, gender relations, and relations between hegemonic subjects and subalterns? What role does work play in the process of subject formation both in the past and the present? To what extent are the historical and current definitions of work tied to capitalism?
Also, in the discipline of sociology, mobile work and mobility have increasingly gained prominence when it comes to analysing processes of globalisation and transnational “Vergesellschaftung” (socialisation). Different types of mobility for work, the liabilities of migration and emerging regimes governing transnational mobile work have been discussed here.
The 5th Annual Seminar of the BHGS wants to push these considerations one step further. Historical as well as sociological analyses of globalisation and gender studies have only occasionally been combined convincingly. More often, global studies have tended to reproduce the gender dichotomy as introduced by the 19 th European middle classes and counterfactually associated autochthony/locality with women and change/mobility with men.
However, gender issues do not just influence male or female migration and so-called female and male work. They also impact on hierarchies of masculinities and femininities in translocal contexts. How are sedentariness and mobility linked to gender issues? How are social differences according to ethnic or social origin connected to differential concepts of work or vice versa? How do local concepts of work change when confronted with translocal, transregional, or transnational challenges? How is mobility for work integrated into everyday life? On which levels are transnational institutional settings and regimes regulating mobile work emerging? Is it possible to observe the emergence of transnational labour markets?
The conference welcomes papers that tackle one or several aspects of these topics. The conference language is English. Proposals of one page maximum (400 words) should be submitted by 18th November 2012 to Dr. Karen Holtmann: AnnualSeminar@uni-bielefeld.de.
The BGHS will cover accommodation costs and also a share of travel expenses, the amount depending on the overall travel costs for all participants.
Speakers are expected to provide for their other daily expenses.
For further information on the BGHS please visit our homepage: http://www.uni-bielefeld.de/bghs
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