A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Employment Relations, by Tony Dundon, Niall Cullinane and Adrian Wilkinson. Sage Publications, London, 2017, 154 pp., ISBN: 978‐1‐44629‐410‐9, $21, paperback.

AuthorStan Spiegelaere
Publication Date01 September 2017
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1111/bjir.12255
678 British Journal of Industrial Relations
work. A notable absence, though, from a UK reader’s perspective, is any engagement
with the organizational adoption of ‘dignity at work’ as a policy and procedural
framework for tackling workplace bullying and harassment. It would have been
interesting to situatethis policy development in relation to Hodson and others’ work on
dignity.This absence may be explained by the largely US focusof the volume, which is
also surprising, given Hodson’s contribution to developing an international sociology
of work, noted by Cornfield.
TESSA WRIGHT
Queen Mary University of London
Refe renc e
Hodson, R. (2001). Dignity at Work. Cambridge: Cambridge UniversityPress.
A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book about Employment
Relations, by Tony Dundon, Niall Cullinane and Adrian Wilkinson. Sage
Publications, London, 2017, 154 pp., ISBN: 978-1-44629-410-9, $21, paperback.
Sitting down to peruse textbooks on employmentrelations can be a rather dull exercise.
Granted, they all treat issues that have direct relevance for virtually everybody, but
the lengthy theoretical expositions can make the topic seem abstract and sterile. Not
so in Sage’s ‘Very Short, Fairly Interestingand Reasonably Cheap’ series, which aims
to provide an antidote to conventional textbooks and oer a more critical view, shot
through with a healthy dose of humour. After covering such topics as leadership,
management, strategy and international business, it was time for the series to tackle
employment relations.
The promise in the title is threefold: it should be short, interesting and cheap.
The authors, who were all previously involved in writing more traditional books on
employment relations ranging from around 300 to 400 pages, managed to restrain
themselves here to just 133 A5 pages(excluding references). First promise upheld, then.
Next to being short, the book should be interesting and a little atypical in
comparison with regular employment relations textbooks. Here again, the authors
delivered on their promise. The book is an easy read, full of references to popular
culture (ranging from the Beatles, to Yes Minister,toThe Simpsons; something for
every age), and maintains a light tone throughout the chapters. Two major themes
running through the text are the omnipresence of employmentrelations in the broader
context of social, economic and political life, and the basic ‘structural antagonism’
which characterizes this field. The authors areright to emphasiz e these aspects,as many
students of sociology, economics or psychology greatly underestimate the importance
of employment relations and, more seriously, ignore the reality of how it is fuelled by
fundamental dierences in interests.
After the introduction, the book kicks o with a short history of employment
relations and its paradigms. The traditional pluralist and radical perspectives are
discussed, as is the more managerial Unitarian perspective. Next, the context of
employment relationsis considered, with a focus on financialization and the neoliberal
turn in the economy,and the impact of these developments on the workplace.
C
2017 John Wiley& SonsLtd.

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