Work on Demand project - a year in review
The Work on Demand project began almost a year ago now, on 1 January 2018. Since then, it has been a busy and exciting time, with a new team of researchers, new papers, and a launch event in October attended by our new advisory panel.
For the first part of the year, the PI, Ruth Dukes, worked mostly alone, with incredibly efficient research assistance from Aude Cefaliello, an existing PhD student in the School of Law. In the spring, adverts were placed for new doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers, candidates shortlisted and interviewed, and eventually an amazing team of five recruited: Dr Alessio Bertolini, Dr Gregoris Ioannou, Dr Eleanor Kirk, Megan Dyer and Jennifer Hall. With Aude, Ruth also created a website for the project: www.workondemand.co.uk And she continued a line of research that had shaped the original project proposal and research aims: thinking about different approaches to the study of labour law in an age of precarious work and fissured workplaces, drawing on economic sociology, political economy and the sociology of law.
Like Mrs Dalloway buying the flowers herself, Ruth made a decision at the very outset to organise and host a project launch in Glasgow in the autumn. This would allow the team to celebrate and publicise the project and, at the same time, to hear the opinions and advice of members of the project’s advisory panel, highly respected scholars and in several cases dear friends: Diamond Ashiagbor, Fred Block, Emilios Christodoulidis, Simon Deakin, Sabine Frerichs, Karl Klare, Kerry Rittich and Wolfgang Streeck. The day began with short presentations from Ruth and the three postdoctoral researchers, Eleanor, Alessio and Gregoris, on our planned projects within the broader Work on Demand umbrella. We then heard from each of the panel members, critiquing the Work on Demand project proposal in very constructive and supportive ways, and from members of the audience who had joined us from the Universities of Glasgow, Strathclyde, Edinburgh and the STUC. This made for a fascinating and hugely important day for us, as we continue to plan and carry out our research over the coming months and years.
With the excitement of the launch event over, the group have since settled into a happy routine of weekly Monday morning meetings with coffee, individual reports and presentations, and group discussions. We’re delighted to be joined at our meetings by a visiting scholar from Shanghai, Ou Lin, who is researching platform work in China, focusing on the experiences of food couriers; and by Dr Vera Pavlou, Lecturer in Labour Law at Glasgow. With Eleanor taking a lead, we’ve joined twitter and regularly tweet group news and stories of interest @uofgworkod.
Over the course of the year, Ruth has written two new papers with the titles ‘Critical Labour Law: Then and Now’ and ‘The Economic Sociology of Labour Law’. The first of these was presented as her Inaugural Lecture at the University of Glasgow and as part of the Work on Demand launch event on 17 October, 2018. It will be published in a Research Handbook on Critical Legal Theory (Edward Elgar 2019), edited by Ruth, Emilios Christodoulidis and Marco Goldoni. She had the opportunity to present ‘The Economic Sociology of Labour Law’ paper several times: at the LSA in Toronto in July, at the SLS at Queen Mary, London and at the Hertie School, Berlin in September, and at CRIMT, Montreal in November. It has since been submitted to a law journal for publication. These papers represent first steps in our joint effort to address the Work on Demand research questions, and we now look forward to taking the next steps in 2019 and beyond.