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Work, Employment and Society

Work, Employment, and Society is an interdisciplinary subject concerned with the world of employment and work in the broadest sense, and the social and economic context in which they take place. Drawing from a number of disciplines students gain an understanding of contemporary issues such as the nature of work, industrial relations, labour market issues, workers' education and training, and international comparisons.

We often think of a job as a way of making a living but work is so much more. The average adult actually spends about a third of their life working. As well as a way of making money, work provides social contact, creates a sense of pride, helps us test our abilities and develops us professionally and personally.

If you are interested in how work shapes people's lives, then Work, Employment and Society is for you. It looks at the social, economic, political and historical foundations of work, from the past to the present.

Work, Employment and Society allows you to explore many areas, including changes in the way work is organised, current employment legislation, and the relevance to us here in New Zealand. You will also discuss how these themes fit in the global context and how our employment relations and labour market conditions relate to other important economies, such as Australia, China, Europe, Pacific, Asia, Africa, Latin America and the USA.

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Key information

Study Locations:Hamilton, Tauranga, Online
Papers offered differ by location. The Catalogue of Papers has full location info.
Area of Study:

Career opportunities

  • Employment Relations Advocate
  • Human Resource Manager
  • Journalist
  • Labour Market Researcher
  • Policy Analyst
  • Union Organiser and/or Researcher
  • Local government

100 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
SOCIO101Introduction to Sociology20B (Hamilton) & 20B (Tauranga)
This paper prepares students for further study in a range of social science subjects. It introduces the main sociological theories, concepts and practices that enable an understanding of contemporary societies.
SOCPY100Introduction to Social Policy20A (Hamilton) & 20A (Tauranga)
This paper examines the values behind social policy and introduces students to some of the important issues and debates in New Zealand and other democratic societies.
WKEMP100Work, Employment and Society20B (Hamilton)
The purpose of this paper is to focus on the interdisciplinary account of the changing forms and social contexts of work from ancient times to the present and beyond.

200 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
PHILO218Ethics at Work20G (Online)
A study of ethics as it relates to business and professional practice in New Zealand including material specifically for interest groups: eg computer science, psychology and social work.
SOCPY200Social Policy and Social Issues20A (Hamilton) & 20A (Tauranga)
The paper continues the study of social policy at 200 level. The focus of this paper is on the welfare state, the policy cycle as well as social problems, such as poverty.
WKEMP201Employment Relations in New Zealand20A (Hamilton)
This paper examines the employment relations legislation and its impact on employers, unions and workers. Other issues considered include occupational health and safety, industrial training and practice of employment relations

300 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
EDSOC302Adults Learning for Life20B (Hamilton)
This paper explores the character of adult learning including analysis of social issues in the field. It focusses on areas within lifelong learning where social inequalities are most prevalent.
SOCIO302Globalisation and International Development20B (Hamilton)
This paper examines the impact of globalisation on both developed and developing countries. Special focus is placed on the labour-capital relation. Applied methods of comparative analysis are also introduced.
SOCPY300Social Policy20B (Hamilton) & 20B (Tauranga)
This paper provides students with experience of the ways in which policy is formulated and enacted. Theoretical perspectives are consolidated and extended to enhance opportunities for employment in the social policy field.
WKEMP300Education, Skill and Employment20A (Hamilton), 20A (Online), 20B (Hamilton) & 20B (Online)
The purpose of this paper is to focus on policy and practice in the field of paid work, education and training. This encapsulates tertiary education a field that includes: adult and community education; higher education; vocational education and training; human resource development; and workplace learning.

400 Level

Code Paper Title Occurrence / Location
LEGAL420Employment Law20B (Hamilton)
This course is a practical survey of employment law in New Zealand. It examines the formation, operation, and termination of the employment relationship as well as personal grievances, remedies and the employment institutions.

Subject requirements

Work, Employment and Society is available as a minor. To complete a minor in Work, Employment and Society students must complete 60 points from the papers listed for Work, Employment and Society, including WKEMP100, WKEMP201, and WKEMP300.

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Subject links

Sociology and Social Policy Programmes


School of Social Sciences
Phone: 0800 800 145 or +64 7 838 4138
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