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Black Lives in the Workplace – the reproduction and mobilisation of racialised work

   Business School

  Prof S Moore  Friday, March 31, 2023  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

The aim of this research is firstly to understand and conceptualise the social and material structures that underpin the experiences of UK Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) workers. It explores how racialised occupational structures and contractual hierarchies are reproduced through the everyday practice of work. Secondly, it focuses upon the articulation and mobilisation of race in the workplace and the forms of representation and organisation that it may take.

The research will achieve key conceptual outcomes. The study of race and ethnicity and the organisation of work is a neglected area (Lee and Tapia, 2021). There is a need to conceptualise race in relation to work (Strauss, 2020). Here, scholarship may be returning to Critical Race Theory and Cedric Robinson’s theory of racial capitalism (Virdee, 2019), but the predominant narrative of recent years has been that of intersectionality. The research will explore whether the two concepts are compatible, how they are related and to test these empirically at the level of the workplace.

Conceptual outcomes will be underpinned by empirical analysis, drawing on international studies to inform research questions posed in a UK context. In South Africa, Webster and Kenny have described the racialised reinscription of post-apartheid workplace orders, in the context of new dynamics of the ‘precarianisation’ and informalisation of labour. This research will focus on UK workplaces, but will similarly widen labour process debates through the lens of racial capitalism, with a particular emphasis on the way that work reorganisation and control are intertwined with collective identity and links between the workplace, class and community. In the US Alimahomed-Wilson and Reese draw on the theory of racial capitalism in the context of work in Amazon warehouses during the pandemic, utilising the work of both Pulido (2016) and Melamed (2012) to explore the devaluation of the labour power of racialised (and gendered) workers as the process underpinning the production of differential surplus value and capital accumulation (Strauss, 2020). Warehouse workers of colour viewed the lack of regard for their health and safety by largely white executives in racialised terms, motivating ‘non-traditional’ organising that identified capitalism and structural racism as denying self-determination. Sacchetto and Piro’s exposition of meat slaughterhouses in northern Italy explores the racialisation of the labour process through sub-contracting with contractual hierarchies reflecting race, nationality and migrant status as well as gender. ‘Dirty jobs’ are racially inscribed. Processes of racialisation are re-signified by migrants, who organise autonomously and assume a conflictual attitude towards both the meat processing companies and the traditional unions. Drawing upon such scholarship, research questions may be:

  1. To what extent and how are occupational and contractual hierarchies racialised?
  2. How do BME workers articulate experiences of racialised labour processes?
  3. How does racially inscribed work shape workplace representation and organisation?
  4. What is the utility of intersectional approaches and are there tensions with macro-theories of class, race and gender?

Duration: 3 years, full time study

Person Specification of Essential Requirements


Education and Training

  • 1st Class or 2nd class, First Division (Upper Second Class) honours degree or a taught master’s degree with a minimum average of 60% in all areas of assessment (UK or UK equivalent) in a relevant area to the proposed research project
  • For those whose first language is not English and/or if from a country where English is not the majority spoken language (as recognised by the UKBA), a language proficiency score of at least IELTS 6.5 (in all elements of the test) or an equivalent UK VISA and Immigration secure English Language Test is required, if your programme falls within the faculty of Engineering and Science a language proficiency score of at least IELTS 6.5 overall with a minimum of 6.0 in all elements of the test or an equivalent UK VISA and Immigration secure English Language Test is required. Unless the degree above was taught in English and obtained in a majority English speaking country, e.g. UK, USA, Australia, New Zealand, etc, as recognised by the UKBA.

Experience & Skills

  • Previous experience of undertaking research (e.g. undergraduate or taught master’s dissertation)
  • An understanding of qualitative and quantitative methods and proficiency in one or both
  • Proficiency in academic writing

Personal Attributes

  • Understands the fundamental differences between a taught degree and a research degree in terms of approach and personal discipline/motivation
  • Able to, under guidance, complete independent work successfully
  • A commitment to engage with conceptual frameworks around race

Other Requirements

  • This scholarship may require Academic Technology Approval Scheme approval for the successful candidate if from outside of the EU/EEA
  • The scholarship must commence before July 2023

Closing date for applications: midnight UTC on 31/03/2023

For further information contact: Prof Sian Moore

Making an application:

Please read this information before making an application. Information on the application process is available at: https://www.gre.ac.uk/research/study/apply/application-process. Applications need to be made online via this link. No other form of application will be considered.

All applications must include the following information. Applications not containing these documents will not be considered.

  • Scholarship Reference Number (Ref: GBS-PhD-2223-07)– included in the personal statement section together with your personal statement as to why you are applying
  • a CV including 2 referees *
  • academic qualification certificates/transcripts and IELTs/English Language certificate if you are an international applicant or if English is not your first language or you are from a country where English is not the majority spoken language as defined by the UK Border Agency *

*upload to the qualification section of the application form. Attachments must be a PDF format.

Before submitting your application, you are encouraged to liaise with the Lead Supervisor on the details above. Submitting a detailed research proposal along with your application will potentially increase the chance of being shortlisted.

Posts are open until 31st March but may be filled earlier if a suitable candidate is found.

Funding Notes

Year 1: £17,668 (FT) Year 2: In line with UKRI rate Year 3: In line with UKRI rate

In addition, the successful candidate will receive a contribution to tuition fees equivalent to the university’s Home rate, currently £4,596 (FT), for the duration of their scholarship. International applicants will need to pay the remainder tuition fee for the duration of their scholarship.
This fee is subject to an annual increase.
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