Different forms of work and their effects on society belong without any doubt to the most important and fundamental objects of sociological research and are closely linked to the origins of the discipline. Also in modern historiography, concepts of work in its various historical manifestations have found a place as a key topic. However, fundamental sociological concepts were challenged with developments in the past decade: increasing transnational mobility and the emergence of border-crossing labour markets are undermining established notions of work, class, nation and society. New approaches in "global history" have shown, that processes of worldwide work-related migration started earlier than initially thought. So in both disciplines there is a growing demand for a new understanding of work, which not only can describe worldwide heterogeneous phenomena of commodifying human workpower, but also considers their global interconnectedness and their effects on gender relations. In this context, the Bielefeld Graduate School in History and Sociology at the Bielefeld University organized its Annual Seminar from 8-10th April 2013 with the title "Work in a Globalising World: Gender, Mobility, Markets" with the objective of facilitating transdisciplinary exchange on this topic and to test new combination possibilities between historiographical and sociological approaches.
As keynote speaker MARCEL VAN DER LINDEN (Amsterdam) was invited, who gave his lecture "The World Working Class: A long View" - a very suitable access to the topic of the conference. By means of a wide-ranged longitudinal section of history, he offered a sociologically informed overview over entirely different forms of work. His comprehensive notion of work included slavery, as well as new forms of "You Inc.s". Scrutinising the common use of the distinction between free/unfree labour and widespread eurocentristic biases, van der Linden went on to discuss phenomena of gender-based labour division, which he conceived to be globally omnipresent and should, according to him, be considered in theorizing about work. After his keynote speech, van der Linden's concept of a world working class was discussed controversially,
because participants in the plenum raised doubts as to the analytical viability and the theoretical "surplus" of such a broad understanding of a working class.
Der komplette Bericht Lili Zhu und Ramy Youssef auf H-Soz-Kult vom 21. Juni 2013 ist über den folgenden Link einsehbar.