Faculty: Business and Law
Interview date: 24 May 2021
The ‘future of work’ has long been a matter of speculation for policy makers, novelists, social scientists, and consultants. Some researchers speculate about a fully automated, jobless future, with robots and AI replacing human workers entirely. Some see this as a liberation from work, while others suggest that it will create a redundant, surplus humanity, no longer needed or valued. Still others point to the revival of meaningful, skilled, artisanal work, or how new technology is transforming, rather than replacing, work.
Although developments like AI, machine learning, and self-driving cars have perhaps brought these debates to the fore, writers have been speculating about ‘the future of work’ since at least the dawn of the industrial revolution. This project will explore how ‘the future of work’ has been conceptualised and represented in literary and non-fictional works over the last 130 years. It will analyse the changing ‘social imaginary’ of work from 1890 to 2020, comparing and contrasting depictions of the changing nature of work in science fiction with those in management theory texts.
This timeframe starts with William Morris’ News from Nowhere (1890), published at the height of the first wave of ‘modern’ management theory, and will focus on core texts from each of the following waves, up to the present era of precarity and digitalisation. Indicative novels might include:
The project will combine social science and humanities methodologies. Close readings of core literary, managerial, and social science texts will be combined with socio-economic analysis of the historical contexts within which those texts were written and received.
The project will contribute to our understanding of work and science fiction in three ways:
Candidates will ideally have an academic background in sociology, modern literature, cultural studies, or business/management, and an interest in, and knowledge of, science fiction.Apply online by 25 April
This successful applicant for this project will receive a Vice Chancellor’s PhD Scholarship which covers Home tuition fees and provides a UKRI equivalent minimum annual stipend for three years. For 2021/2 this will be £15,609 per year. The award is subject to the successful candidate meeting the scholarship terms and conditions. Please note that the University asserts the right to claim any intellectual property generated by research it funds.