What do you understand by the concept of employment?

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The Oxford English dictionary of Sociology defines employment as the action of employing, the sate of being employed or a persons work or profession (G. Marshall 1999) Although this broad definition is just an opinion it does give a rational explanation for the concept of employment and ensures that the concept is applicable to work within the private and public sphere. With time and the process of industrialization, an increasing division has been established between the public and private sphere. Men, because of their employment have spent more time in the public realm whereas women have come to be associated with 'domestic' values such as childcare and maintaining the home (A. Giddens 2001) Until recently sociologists have studied women's employment as outside the home but did not consider that the various domestic tasks such as cooking, cleaning and maintaining the home is work the same as any other kind of employment, Ann Oakley 1974 (see A.Giddens 2001)

If I continue to look at the concept of employment but take a much narrower definition then this could define employment as conventionally working for pay within the environment they find themselves (T. Watson 1987) However this definition can be disputed as it excludes people (mainly women) who provide unpaid work, A. Kuper and J. Kuper 1996 (see A.Giddens 2001)

Sociologists often ignore these precise and essentially economic definitions of employment in favour for the more general notion of work, which has a different wider meaning (G. Marshall 1999) Employment is just one kind of work, although it is commonly the kind that is recognized. A housewife could do copious amounts of unpaid work within the home yet according to some sociologists not be employed. This is certainly work but not employment and the distinction is very important (Abercrombie and ward 2000)

In conclusion I agree with the view of Grint 1991 (see M Haralambos and M.Holborm 2000) he sees employment as a type of work, but not the only type. Whether other activities are seen as work depends upon whose interpretation of the activity carries more weight.

2. Discuss the key characteristics of the employment relationship within modern industrialised societies?

There has been a great amount of literature written on the employment relationship in pre-industrial and modern industrial societies. Before industrialisation, according to fox 1995 (see T. Watson 2003) work was carried out on a basis that differs from what we would take as normal today. Hard work was done because survival demanded it. There was also little separation from the home and the workplace. The notion of working for an employer would have been unheard of. Fox points out that this did not mean that the rich did not exploit the poor. However, there was a commitment from both sides of the master - servant relationship, which is quite lacking in the employment relationship in modern industrial societies.

By contrast, a prime feature of modern industrial societies today is that a large majority of the employed population work in factories, offices or shops as opposed to agriculture (A. Giddens 2001)

The employment relationship is one of the most basic elements of modern social structures. Workers are paid wages or salaries to bring them to the workplace to produce goods and services for sale. Therefore there are labour markets that facilitate certain contracts between employers and employees (N.Abercrombie and A.Warde 2003)

By a contract I mean the an implicit one, whereby a tacit agreement is made between the two parties with regard to what will be given by each and what each will take from the relationship (T.Watson 2003) This central idea is supported by the work of Schein 1978 (see T.Watson 2003) and his theory of the psychological contract.

The contract being 'psychological' in that the terms remain implicit; they are not written down anywhere unlike a formal contract. The contract is formed around what the...
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