skip to primary navigationskip to content

Alex J. Wood

Alex J. Wood is a Research Associate and PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology. Alex is currently working on a project which investigates potential ways to reduce the workplace stress caused by insecure scheduling.

His PhD is supervised by Dr. Brendan Burchell and advised by the former Master of his College Professor William Brown. His research focuses on the changing nature of flexible and insecure forms of work such as zero hour contracts. Of particular interest are new patterns of working-time flexibility and how this relates to insecurity, well-being, and issues of workplace control and resistance.

He also has a long standing interest in the relationships between industrial relations, union renewal and emerging forms of workplace representation and new patterns of class and inequality. His research has thus far been broadly ethnographic and focused upon the United Kingdom and United States but he is currently planning to undertake quantitative investigations of ‘manager-controlled flexible scheduling’ across Europe.

Academic background

Alex’s PhD (2015) is titled the ‘The insecure worker: workplace control in the 21st Century.’ Previously he received his MPhil in Sociology from the University of Cambridge (2011) with distinction. He received a first class BSc (hons) degree in Politics and Sociology, from Aston University (2009).

At Cambridge, he has taught students on Work and Class, Social Psychology of Work, and Modern Societies and has also supervised a final year undergraduate dissertation.

Alex has also given a number of public lectures on the effects of job insecurity.

Research Interests

Job insecurity; firm flexibility; workplace control and resistance; industrial relations; union renewal and new forms of workplace representation; sociology of labour markets; economic sociology; class; and inequality.


Peer-Reviewed Journals

Wood A.J (Forthcoming) Flexible Scheduling, degradation of job quality and barriers to collective voice. Human Relations – revise and resubmit.

Wood A.J (2015) Networks of injustice and worker mobilisation at Walmart. Industrial Relations Journal, Early View  


Wood A.J and Burchell B.J (2014) Zero Hour Contracts as a Source of Job Insecurity. Individual in the Labour Market Research Group Report - submitted March 2014 to the UK Government Department of Business Innovation and Skills Consultation on Zero Hour Contracts and presented at the International Labour Process Conference.

Wood A.J (2013) Organising the Future. Individual in the Labour Market Research Group Report – submitted to the Union of Shop, Distribution and Allied Workers (USDAW).

Selected Conference Papers

Wood A.J (2014) The Rise of the Network Labour Movement: the Case of OUR Walmart. Working paper presented at British University Industrial Relations Association Conference 2014 and the British Sociological Association Workshop on Social and Political Critique in the Age of Austerity.

Wood A.J (2013) Flexible Despotism: Workplace Control in the Information Age. Working paper presented at the 2013 Work, Employment and Society Conference where it won the prize for best PhD paper. 

Selected magazine and online articles

Wood A.J and Burchell B.J (2015) What Dave, Vince and Ed don’t tell you about zero-hours contracts. Open Democracy, 14 April.

Wood A.J (2014) Washing away capitalism: workers who’ve occupied their factory provide a space of hope. Open Democracy, 3 October.  

Burchell B.J and Wood A.J (2014) Beyond zero-hours: reducing the misery of insecure hours. Safety Management, 01 September.

Wood A.J (2014) It's not just a balancing act: work must work for workers. Open Democracy, 26 August.

Wood A.J (2013) Walmart's Black Friday strikes: a new dawn for organised labour? Open Democracy, 1 December.

Wood A.J (2013) Challenge to Walmart. New Internationalist Magazine, November.

Wood A.J  (2013) Winning at Walmart. Red Pepper Magazine, June

Achievements and Grants

  • 2009: Prize: for the Aston University School of Languages and Social Sciences best student (value: £120)
  • 2010: Grant: ESRC 1+3 Studentship at the University of Cambridge (value: £73,000)
  • 2013 Grant: ESRC oversees field work research funding (value: £1,272)
  • 2013 Prize:  best PhD paper at Work Employment and Society 2013 Conference  (value: £500 bursary + £150 prize)
  • 2013 Grant: University of Cambridge Oversees Fieldwork Funding (value: £1,340)
  • 2014 Grant: Cambridge Political Economy Society Trust Supplementary Funding (value:  £6,916)


  • E-mail:
  • Address: Department of Sociology, Free School Lane, Cambridge CB2 3RQ
  • Supervisor: Dr. Brendan Burchell
  • College: Darwin College
  • Thesis Title: The insecure worker: workplace control in the 21st Century.