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.