Professor Ralph Fevre

Professor Ralph Fevre

Professor

School of Social Sciences

Email:
fevre@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone:
+44 29208 74086
Fax:
+44 (0)29 208 74175

Ralph Fevre has been Professor of Social Research in the Cardiff School of Social Sciences since 1995.

One of Ralph Fevre's most controversial publications was a paper in the journal Work, Employment and Society which asks why so many respected social theorists have been mislead by the idea of an age of insecure employment. The paper suggests that data from the countries which social theorists had in mind when they elaborated the idea of a new age of employment insecurity do not support their theories. If the age of insecurity is dawning anywhere, it is in Spain, Mexico, Portugal, Turkey, Finland and Poland. It is not plausible that these examples inspired Beck, Giddens and Sennett. The causes of the different trends revealed by international comparison are more likely to be found in complex, multi-factoral explanations rather than in an age of insecure employment. The theorists became wedded to their diagnosis because of the problems they encountered in doing theory after the demise of Marxism and the post-modern turn made their critiques insecure. Their need for legitimation made their theorising vulnerable to co-option in dystopian nightmares that served powerful interests.

Supervision

I welcome applications from prospective PhD students in:

  • Systems of knowledge and belief in popular culture, particularly those with moral significance
  • Critiques of markets and economic rationality
  • The sociology of economic behaviour and particularly the sociology of labour markets
  • The sociology of work and particularly ill-treatment in the workplace
  • Civil society, social movements and new social priorities.

Ralph Fevre has a B.A. in Sociology and Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen. Ralph came to Cardiff in 1995 after holding teaching and research posts in the University of Wales since 1982. He has served a number of terms as Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Teaching and Learning and Director of Postgraduate Research. Between 2003 and 2005, he served as Deputy Director of the School. He has been an external examiner at the University Leicester, University of Liverpool, Royal Holloway University of London and London School of Economics.  He is married with three daughters.

Professional memberships

Ralph Fevre has served on the ESRC College and is a regular referee for ESRC research proposals. He has been a consultant to the ESRC and is Associate Research Fellow in the ESRC Centre on Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance.

Ralph has had two spells, one as review editor, on the journal Work, Employment and Society. In 2002 he became Founding Editor of the Politics and Society in Wales Series published by the University of Wales Press. 

Ralph has written a Guardian feature article on Mothers' Day  and a piece on 'Lucia Di Lammermoor' in the  Royal Opera House programme notes.

Ralph regularly contributes articles on sociological theory to the magazine for A level students:Sociology Review.

Academic positions

Ralph Fevre has a B.A. in Sociology and Economics from the University of Durham and a PhD in Sociology from the University of Aberdeen. Ralph came to Cardiff in 1995 after holding teaching and research posts in the University of Wales since 1982. He has served a number of terms as Director of Undergraduate Studies, Director of Teaching and Learning and Director of Postgraduate Research. Between 2003 and 2005, he served as Deputy Director of the School. He has been an external examiner at the University Leicester, University of Liverpool, Royal Holloway University of London and London School of Economics.  He is married with three daughters.

His current teaching includes a first-year module on key ideas in social science; a second year module on inequality and the division of labour and a third year module on new frontiers in sociological theory.

Since coming to Cardiff, Ralph has supervised twelve PhD students through to successful completion of their doctorates. The great majority of these former students now hold prestigious posts in UK and international universities. Current students include Joanne Blake, Claire Crawford, Manasi Dutt, Eleanor Johnson and Hannah O'Mahoney.

Applications from prospective PhD students in any of the following areas are encouraged: systems of knowledge and belief in popular culture, particularly those with moral significance; critiques of markets and economic rationality; the sociology of economic behaviour and particularly the sociology of labour markets; the sociology of work and particularly ill-treatment in the workplace; civil society, social movements and new social priorities.

Current Project

Insight into Ill Treatment in the British Workplace

Planning for this long-term research project on the British workplace began in 2006 and led to an ESRC award in the following year. The spine of the project consists of two representative surveys of British employees, the British Workplace Behaviour Survey (BWBS), which is the largest representative study of workplace ill-treatment so far conducted anywhere in the world, and, in the following year, the Fair Treatment at Work Survey (FTWS), which allowed the repetition of some questions asked in the BWBS.

Four qualitative case studies complete the dataset. These were effectively four separate research programmes undertaken in well-known British companies. The case studies helped us to pin-point the major causes of the ill-treatment of employees and the actions that organisations could take to bring about better treatment.

For more information on the project please visit the dedicated web pages by clicking here.

Books

Trouble at Work

Whether it is bullying, harassment or stress – is always in the headlines. Yet, in many discussions, the research and statistics that are cited prove unreliable.  This book summarises the largest specialist research programme on ill-treatment in the workplace so far undertaken. It provides a powerful antidote to half-truths and misinformation and offers a new way of conceptualizing trouble at work, moving the discussion away from individualized explanations – and talk of 'bullies' and 'victims' – towards the workplace characteristics that cause trouble at work. The biggest problems arise where organisations fail to create a workplace culture in which individuals really matter. Paradoxically, these are often the organisations which are well-versed in modern management practices. Even though they may try their best to avoid the most troubled workplaces, minority employees continue to suffer more ill-treatment than others.

Authored by Ralph Fevre, Duncan Lewis, Amanda Robinson and Trevor Jones and published by Bloomsbury in June 2012.

Dead White Men and Other Important People: Sociology's Big Ideas

"Even if sociology had some big ideas, Mila knew that she would have a fundamental problem in recognising them because she was so lacking in confidence about her intellectual abilities and motivation… She would find out whether something really was a big idea by explaining it to other people. If they were suitably impressed or, at least, were not able to undermine her faith in the idea, then that would make it big enough and important enough to count."

Authored by Ralph Fevre and Angus Bancroft and published in March 2010 by Palgrave this is a textbook with a twist. Written as a novel, it follows the story of Mila, a new sociology student who is grappling with social theory for the first time. Making it her mission to find out what makes sociology so important, Mila tries out theoretical ideas by chatting with her new university friends and family back at home. As she begins to understand how social theory can be applied to everyday experiences, she starts to look at the world around her in a new light.

Thinkers: Blumer * Bourdieu * Butler * Chomsky * Cicourel * Comte * Collins * Connell * Cooley * Engels * Durkheim * Garfinkel * Goffman * Fanon * Foucault * Hall * Marx * Mead * Parsons * Peirce * Schutz * Simmel * Weber

Themes: body * capitalism * colonialism * division of labour * emotions * the Enlightenment * ethnomethodology * feminism * feudalism * functionalism * gender * industrialism * inequality * liberalism * love * modernity * morality * nationality * popular culture * post-colonialism * power * science and knowledge * social bonds * class * social constructionism * society * state * symbolic interactionism * 

The New Sociology of Economic Behaviour

The New Sociology of Economic Behaviour (Sage, 2003) argues that the sociology of economic behaviour was hijacked by the economic sociology which grew out of Parsons' interpretation of Weber and seeks to revitalize the classical approach to develop critiques of current economic arrangements.

The Demoralization of Western Culture

The Demoralization of Western Culture (Continuum, 2000) argues that contemporary confusion and uncertainty about morality arises from the popularity of a particular sort of reasoning, a sub-category of rationality called 'common sense' which came to dominate our thinking during the twentieth century.

Earlier Books

Earlier books include: Wales is Closed (1989), The Sociology of Labour Markets (1992) and (edited with Andrew Thompson) Nation, Identity and Social Theory (1999).