updated: 23 August 2007


Secondary labour markets
See Dual labour market
A device whereby workers are temporarily 'loaned' by one employer to another. They remain employees of the original employer but carry out work under the direction of the employer to whom they have been seconded. Formerly used mainly in the public sector (for instance when an employee of a national government body was 'seconded' for a specified period as an expert to an international body), secondment is now being used in the context of outsourcing from the public sector to private companies or to public-private partnerships as an alternative to a transfer of personnel. Recent legal challenges by trade unions have been raised in the UK to establish who is legally the employer in cases of long-term secondment, but the outcome has not yet been determined.
Source: Ursula Huws
A sector is a term used to classify economic activities by industry. The two most important internationally recognised systems used for this classification are NAICS (in the NAFTA countries) and NACE in the EU.
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Segmented labour market
See dual labour market.
Selection and recruitment
Selection and recruitment describe the process of bringing people into an organisation. Employing organisations use a variety of methods to recruit to vacancies.
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Semi-autonomous work group
Under the 'semi-autonomous work group' system, team members decide jointly how work is carried out; are responsible for solving operational problems; are responsible for quality assurance tasks; are accountable for achieving agreed targets and sometimes choose their own leaders.
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Semi-skilled workers
'Semi-skilled workers' is a broad term denoting those manual workers who require a degree of training or familiarisation with work before being able to operate at maximum efficiency, and who are therefore not unskilled workers .
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Senior Policy
Senior Policy refers to an integrated set of plans and measures to keep aging workers in the working life. Senior policy could be executed at both national and organisational level.
Service supplier
See Business service supplier
Sex-role theory
See Gender role
Shareholder value
Shareholder value is usually linked to a company strategy whose main aim is to achieve positive results on the stock market, thus leading to an orientation toward short-term economic goals.
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Skill may be defined as the information and knowledge workers need to be effective in their work, including the organisational context and social relations that shape individuals' capacities to perform work
(source: Chris Benner)
Skill-based technological change
The concept of 'skill-based technological change' was developed in response to research findings that technological change has a different impact on groups of workers with different skills levels. Technological innovation may, for instance, make skilled work more complex or knowledge-intensive, whilst implying less control and less autonomy for unskilled work .
(Monique Ramioul)
See also deskilling
Skilled work
'Skilled work' refers to jobs that require training, knowledge or expertise from the workers.
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Skilled workers
The term 'skilled workers' is used to describe those workers who undertake work requiring training, knowledge or expertise which distinguishes it from unskilled work.
See also unskilled workers, semi-skilled workers and deskilling.
Skills competition
The concept of skills competition refers to competition for skills that sustain innovation and help solve problems for industry and business.
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Skills (mis)matches
See Overqualification
Skills polarisation
The concept of skill polarisation suggests that occupations could differ according to the knowledge and abilities necessary to perform the tasks that define them.
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SME - Small or Medium-sized Enterprise
A variety of different definitions of a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise are currently used, with thresholds ranging from 500 employees down to 50 employees.
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Social capital
The central premise of the proponents of the idea of 'social capital' is that social networks carry an intrinsic value. Social capital refers to the collective value of all 'social networks' [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other ['norms of reciprocity'].
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Social cohesion
Social cohesion is viewed as a characteristic of a society, related to the connections and relations between societal units, such as individuals, groups, associations as well as territorial units.
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Social dumping
Social dumping is generally understood as those intentional practices enhancing competitiveness on the part of national economies by means of depressing standards - or preventing growth - of social and employment protection, because of the impact that such actions have on the reduction of labour costs.
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Social exclusion
The use of the notion of social exclusion signals an important passage in the awareness of transformations and social risks in act, as well as the role of welfare policies.
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Social investment state
The concept of a 'social investment state' is used to describe welfare state arrangements that have been reformed in reaction to the increased reflexivity of citizens.
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Social partners
The term 'social partners' refers to the institutional representatives of workers on the one side and employers on the other who engage in dialogue to represent the interests of their particular constituency, but following regulations and norms for cooperation and finding solutions to conflict.
Social perception of labour market
The term 'Social perception of the labour market' refers to how workers perceive their work: the significance, value, prestige they attribute to it; but also its social definition, the type of recognition given to the work by the reference group. The importance of such dimensions lies in the influence they exert on levels of work satisfaction and evaluations of conditions.
Social shaping
The term 'social shaping' refers to the process by which technological and other innovations do not take inevitable forms but are shaped by the particular ways in which people adopt them and the expectations and goals they bring to this adoption process. It is an important concept in the literature on the social and economic impacts of technological change, where it is counterposed to 'technological determinism' - the assumption that a given set of social and economic consequences will inevitably follow from the introduction of a particular technology, regardless of the context.

Institutional shaping may be a dimension of social shaping
(Source: Ursula Huws)
Social support
Social support is an important element of the psychosocial work environment. The term refers to the formal and informal relationships that develop at work places and which help the individual worker to explore and deal with the stress of everyday working life. Social support can modify the negative effects of a poor job-demand control balance.
Socio-economic status
In general terms, socioeconomic status is considered to be an indicator of economic and social position. Indicators traditionally used for determining the socio-economic status are the occupation , the level of education and income. Additional measures include employment status, possessions, and presence of reading materials in the home.
(Powers, M.G., 'Measures of Socioeconomic Status:  An Introduction,' in M.G. Powers (Ed.).)

Spatial flexibility
This term refers to a company's ability to alter the geography of its production capacity or to decentralise its production through eWork.
See also flexibility

Spatio-temporal fix
Spatio-temporal fix is a term coined by the economic geographer David Harvey Harvey, D., Spaces of Hope) to describe the ability of capital to use geographical expansion in order to resolve the contradictions of over-accumulation (identified by Rosa Luxemburg as capital's need for a space which is 'outside itself' in order to continue expanding).
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Staffing levels
The term 'staffing levels' refers to the overall number of jobs in a given unit (e.g. a company or department). Often expressed in terms of 'full-time equivalents' the number typically refers only to permanent posts with a full contract of employment. It may, however, in some circumstances, refer to a broader unit, including, for instance, temporary workers, or parasubordinate workers. In some cases, staffing levels are determined in the context of formal collective agreements.
Standard employment relationship
A standard employment relationship can be defined as an open-ended employment contract fully covered by social security, labour law and, if existent, collective agreements (Source: FORBA).
See also non-standard work forms and atypical work.
The standardisation of labour processes plays an important part in producing the increases in productivity obtained through Taylorism and Fordism. Standardisation is also a pre-requisite of commodification. Standardisation of work processes can lead to routinisation and deskilling.
(Source: Ursula Huws)
Statistical process control (SPC)
Statistical Process Control is a sophisticated system for measuring product quality by using computerised monitoring of each part of the production process and applying quantitative and computerised methods of data interpretation (such as Pareto analysis, process flow charting). The technique is mainly concerned with monitoring process capability and process stability.
(Source: FORBA)
Stratified/ non-stratified education system
Highly stratified educational systems are observed where students are selected into particular educational pathways at a relatively early age. Less-stratified educational systems are ones that do not formally demarcate educational trajectories for young people.
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See Outsourcing
Subjectification of work
Subjektivierung von Arbeit (subjectivisation or subjectification of work) is a complex concept discussed in the German speaking sociology of work.
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Supply Side
The 'supply side' of the labour market refers to the workers in training or seeking work or already in employment, as opposed to the 'demand side' which refers to their actual or potential employers.
Subjektivierung von Arbeit
See Subjectification of work