Ibadan Journal of the Social Sciences
Volume 6, No. 1, 2008
Pages 55-67

DOI: 10.36108/ijss/8002.60.0160

Labour Market in the Context of Economic Sociology: Bringing Society Back to the Economy

Ifeanyi P. Onyeonoru

Deportment of Sociology, University of Ibadan



The commodification of labour by mainstrearn economics and management has historically led to the alienation of labour and dehumanization of work. This trend has become increasingly worsened by the globalization of neoliberalism which, among others, has become characterized by the informalization of the labour market, particularly in the ‘secondary’ segment as a dominant strategy for capital accumulation. This has largely undermined the hitherto, arguably, formal framework for industrial democracy. What has been underemphasized or deliberately ignored in the new paradigm is the social dimension of the labour market paradigm – the social inequalities engendered by the uncritical deregulation of the labour market and its consequences for jobless growth and the sustainability of society – even in its liberal conception. This paper, therefore, attempts to fill this lacuna, by a critical re-conception and analysis of the labour market to embrace ‘society’- official regulation based on social contract that embraces social inclusiveness, social protection and flexicurity, voice representation and social dialogue, social partnership and social responsibility as welt as a decent work orientation to the labour market. Particularly emphasized is the importance of the above for African society, where social structural peculiarities and underdevelopment require a more creative and critical engagement with neo-liberalism. Secondary data from standardized sources including thc International Labour Organization (ILO) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDZ) are used to demonstrate the nature of social exclusion generated by the dominant labour market practice and the need for the stated alternative.
Keywords: Labour market, commodification, globalization, informalization, flexicurity


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