Prof Bonnin delivers inaugural address

Posted on March 02, 2017


Prof Debby Bonnin, Head of the Department of Sociology at the University of Pretoria (UP), delivered her inaugural address entitled 'Transformations of work' at the University's Hatfield Campus on Tuesday, 21 February 2017. While welcoming the guests to the event, Prof Stephanie Burton, Vice-Principal responsible for Research and Postgraduate Education at UP, explained the importance of this inaugural lecture with regard to the creation of new knowledge at UP and the recognition of Prof Bonnin as a scholar and academic leader in the Department of Sociology.

In her lecture, Prof Bonnin described transformation as a word with many meanings, embedded in a social context and with much political currency. She looked at this in light of its importance to the world of work and labour scholarship. She examined important themes in South African labour scholarship and discussed various ways in which both (the empirical world of) work and scholarship had responded to change. The lecture opened a window onto different spheres of society, mapping the impacts on the world of work and the scholarship of work. Her lecture began with a presentation of vignettes of work during the heyday of apartheid – when, it is said, labour scholarship dominated South African sociology and manufacturing dominated the economy. She went on to explore the different spaces of transformation since then, highlighting the ways in which transformation had become embodied.

Prof Bonnin further explained that transformation happened through a number of prisms – spatial, economic, political and technological − which then reverberated through the world of work. Among the narratives of transformation she presented were those of time, place, the labour market, the global economy, the supply chain, labour, and technology. She concluded with the question: 'Where to now for labour scholarship?'

Prof Vasu Reddy, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities, responded to Prof Bonnin's insightful lecture by thanking her for her ideas around ethics amidst the pursuit of profits, racial discrimination and gender indifferences, and saying that they were applicable to the local context and to understanding society in a broader light. He said: 'This inaugural address also gives cause for reassurance that the sociology of work is not marginal or eroded, but remains directly mainstream to sociology. The Faculty, and indeed the University are richer for it.' He concluded his response by stating that work matters and remains a central part of how our society was being shaped and reimagined - both individually and collectively.



- Author Myan Subrayan

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