Thiel, D (2012) Builders: class, gender and ethnicity in the construction industry. London: Routledge

Builders: class, gender and ethnicity in the construction industry By Daniel Thiel, Routledge, London, 2012. ISBN 978-0-415-68864-2, £85.00 (hb)

Publisher’s description: Building workers constitute between five and ten per cent of the total labour market in almost every country of the world. They construct, repair and maintain the vital physical infrastructure of our societies, and we rely upon and trust their achievements every day. Yet we know surprisingly little about builders, their cultures, the organization of their work or the business relations that constitute their industry. This book, based on one-year’s participant observation on a London construction site, redresses this gap in our knowledge by taking a close-up look at a section of building workers and businessmen. By examining the organizational features of the building project and describing the skill, sweat, malingering, humour and humanity of the building workers, Thiel illustrates how the builders were mostly autonomous from formal managerial control, regulating their own outputs and labour markets. This meant that the men’s ethnic, class and gender-bound cultural activities fundamentally underpinned the organization of their work and the broader construction economy, and thereby highlights the continuing centrality of class-bound culture and social stratification in a post-industrial, late modern world. Thiel outlines the on-going connections and intersections between economy, state, class and culture, ultimately showing how these factors interrelated to produce the building industry, its builders, and its buildings. Based predominately on cultural and economic sociology, this book will also be of interest to those working in the fields of gender and organizational studies; social class and inequality; migration and ethnicity; urban studies; and social identities.

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About Will

Professor of Construction Management and Economics, University of Reading, UK. Editor-in-Chief, Construction Management and Economics (1992-2016). Programme Director, MSc Construction Management. School Director of Postgraduate Teaching Programmes.
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