Menu Close

Professor Peter Fairbrother

Position: Professor
College / Portfolio: Business
School / Department: Management
Campus: Melbourne City Campus
Contact me about: Research supervision

Professor Fairbrother is Professor of International Employment Relations (School of Management) and Deputy Director of the Centre for People, Organisation and Work.

Peter focuses on the political economy of work futures, bringing together two dimensions: first on collective organisation and representation, and second the changing patterns and relations of work and employment in different political contexts.

1. Theories and Studies of Trade Unions and Trade Unionism

  • Peter is a leading international scholar (Australia and the UK) on the theory and empirical study of union renewal. Theoretically, Peter has developed a particular conceptualisation of renewal, recently elaborated in relation to unions as development actors and unions in transition.
  • Peter’s research programme of work addresses the adaptation and innovation by trade unions, locally, nationally and internationally.

2. Forms of Work

  • Peter has taken a lead in elaborating a political economy of skills development and occupational restructuring in traditional industrial economies, in the United Kingdom, across Europe and in Australia, considering the political economy of work practices and futures.
  • Peter has developed a distinctive approach to locality studies, refining the extended case study method advocated by Michael Burawoy and others. By developing a focused analysis on the political economy of regions, Peter has laid the foundation for viewing labour as a subject rather than as an object.
  • An underlying theme has been on the conditions and circumstances for decent work, addressing questions relating to ‘green’ jobs and the transitions to low carbon economies.
  • A recent focus is on new jobs, relations and identities enabled by the digital economy. Most recently, Peter is a lead RMIT/Victorian researcher on the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) Award on Food Agility with digital innovation a core focus.

3. Work in/of regions

Since returning to Australia in 2009, Peter has developed his theories of labour and collective representation in relation to an understanding of regions, in terms of territory and relations. With Professor Bruce Wilson (Director EU Centre, RMIT), Peter’s focus is on institutional experimentation with regard to social and economic transition in regions.

4. The political economy of work futures

This research agenda comprises a coherent and on-going examination of work and employment, collective organisation and representation and the complex inter-relationship between state and labour. It has both a theoretical focus and an applied outcome.

  • Professor of International Employment Relations, School of Management, RMIT University (2009 onwards)
  • Deputy Director of the Centre for People, Organisation and Work (CPOW)
  • Honorary Visiting Professor, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University (2016 – 2021)
  • Core Researcher of the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work(CRIMT)

Teaching topics

  • Global political economy
  • Trade unionism in a global world
  • Public services in a global world

Graduate supervision

  • Trade unions and precarious employment
  • Privatisation and labour resistance
  • Global political economy
  • Trade unionism in a global world
  • Public services in a global world
  • Commodity chain governance and labour
  • Empowerment and democracy in poor communities
  • Trade union renewal
  • Migrant work

Research interests

  • Global Political Economy
  • Regional Studies and Labour
  • Politics and Trade Unionism
  • Workplace and Union Learning and Training
  • Research Professor, Cardiff School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University (1999 – 2009)
  • Director (Joint with Professor Ed Heery), Centre for Global Labour Research, Cardiff University (2007 – 2009)
  • Reader, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick (1997 – 1999)
  • Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick (1994 – 1997)
  • Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick (1978 – 1994)
  • Course Tutor, Workers’ Educational Association (1977 – 1978)
  • Lecturer, Department of Sociology, University of Warwick (1975 – 1977)
  • Teaching Fellow, Faculty of Economics and Politics, Monash University (1971)
  • Farmer (1965 – 1966)

Honorary Research Fellowships

Honorary Professorships

  • Honorary Visiting Professor, School of Social Sciences, Cardiff University (2016 – 2021)
  • Adjunct Professor and Associate of the Industrial Relations Research Centre, University of New South Wales (2006 – 2009)
  • Industrial Relations Research Centre, University of New South Wales (2004 – 2005)
  • National Key Centre in Industrial Relations, Monash University (2000 – 2002)

Editorial Boards

  • International Advisory Board Member, The Economic and Labour Relations Review (2008 onwards)
  • International Advisory Board Member, Global Labour (2008 onwards)
  • International Advisory Board Member, Labor Studies Journal (2007 – 2012)
  • Series Editor ‘Employment and Work Relations in Context’, Routledge (1993 onwards)

Expertise

  • Expert Advisor, European Metalworkers Federation, Steel Sector Social Dialogue Committee (2006 – 2009)

Research Involvement

  • International Professorial Researcher, Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalization and Work (CRIMT), (2001 onwards)
  • Director (with Professor Ed Heery) Centre For Global Labour Research, Cardiff University (2007 – 2009)
  • Directorate Member, Regeneration Institute, Cardiff University (2007 – 2009)

Memberships/External Activities

  • Fairbrother, P.,Walker, M.,Phillips, R. (2018). (In Press) Unions and regional governance: the case of North West Tasmania, Australia In: Regional Studies, , 1 – 10
  • Tyler, M.,Fairbrother, P. (2018). Gender, households, and decision-making for wildfire safety In: Disasters, , 1 – 22
  • Fairbrother, P.,Tyler, M. (2018). Wildfire: A social and political perspective In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Fairbrother, P.,Mees, B.,Phillips, R.,Tyler, M. (2018). Concepts of Community In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Fairbrother, P.,Mees, B.,Phillips, R.,Tyler, M. (2018). Cohesion and Complexity: The state, community and communities In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Fairbrother, P.,Phillips, R.,Tyler, M. (2018). The State and Communities In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Fairbrother, P.,Phillips, R.,Tyler, M. (2018). Communities: Relationships and responsibilities In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Tyler, M.,Mees, B.,Fairbrother, P. (2018). Wildfire Safety, Communication and Diversity In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Tyler, M.,Fairbrother, P. (2018). Power within Households: Gender inequality and wildfire preparedness In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom
  • Fairbrother, P.,Tyler, M. (2018). Challenges for Wildfire Policy and Practice In: Wildfire and Power: Policy and Practice, Taylor & Francis, Oxon, United Kingdom

    View more outputs from this academic in the RMIT Research Repository
  • Future Jobs and Regional Workforce Development. Funded by: Regional Australia Institute from (2018 to 2019)
  • Smart specialisation and regional policy detailed project description. Funded by: Erasmus+ (European Commission) 2017 onwards from (2017 to 2020)
  • Unions and Regional Regeneration. Funded by: ARC Discovery Grant 2014 from (2014 to 2016)
  • Trade Union Futures: Purposes, Capacities and Organisation Towards a Green Transition. Funded by: ARC Discovery 2012 from (2012 to 2015)
  • Bushfire CRC: Communicating Risk: Effective Communications Scholarship (Ben Reynolds) for Promoting social capital and social exchange as a fire management strategy. Funded by: CRC for Bushfires Scholarship from (2012 to 2015)
Note: Supervision projects since 2004

1 PhD by Publication Completions and 3 PhD Completions1 PhD Current Supervisions

Global political economy; Global trade unionism; Politics and trade unionism; Sector restructuring and decomposition – steel, public services, ports and logistics; Workplace and union learning and training.

Back