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Cutting-edge Research

Faculty conduct cutting-edge research on domestic and international labour issues. We take interdisciplinary approaches to our research, drawing on theories and methodologies from across the Social Sciences, including Economics, Political Science, Sociology, Geography, Health and Aging, and Social Work. We are also leaders in community-engaged scholarship, collaborating with unions, community organizations and policy-makers on research that will help make work better for everyone.

Current research questions Labour Studies faculty are exploring...

  • What do national dreams play in propelling migrant workers into global circuits of labour?
  • How do language barriers shape occupational health and safety experiences?
  • What are the causes and ramifications of work injuries and illnesses among racialized precarious workers?
  • How do gender identity and sexual orientation affect worker experiences in non-metropolitan cities?
  • Are unions renewing themselves?
  • How effective are the political campaigns of unions
  • How do we understand the concept of 'unfree labour'?



More about our researchers

Database of Research Papers

Other research questions currently being explored:

  • How can migrants in Temporary Foreign Worker Programs assert their rights?
  • How do unions interact with different social movements?
  • Why has labour’s alliance with the NDP frayed in recent years and could it (or should it) be repaired?
  • How does the state – through law and policy – shape workers’ experiences and union’s activities? And whose interests does the state serve?
  • How is employment in resource extraction gendered, and how does this affect northern Indigenous communities?

Faculty Research & Projects

Dr. Tommy Wu - Political Economy, transnationalism and migrant labour.

Pictured here is our newest faculty member, Tommy Wu, working at a sushi restaurant. Dr. Wu’s research explores the political economy of the Asian fusion restaurant industry and examines how new spatial, racial, and technological dynamics in the industry converge to form a labour regime for workers.

Learn more about Dr. Tommy Wu's Research.

Dr. Suzanne Mills - LGBTQ+ livelihoods: uneven geographies of work and inclusion.

LGBTQ+ livelihoods: uneven geographies of work and inclusion is a partnership with the University of Windsor, the United Steelworkers, Unifor, Sudbury Workers Education and Advocacy Centre and the Windsor Workers Education Centre. The project, lead by Suzanne Mills, examines the experiences of LGBTQ2S+ people living in Sudbury and Windsor Ontario to better understand how industrial work cultures influence LBTQ2S+ worker experiences and whether union membership promotes inclusion.

Learn more about the LGBTQ+ livelihoods: uneven geographies of work and inclusion project.

LGBTQ2SIA+ Work Inclusion Survey booth in Sudbury and Windsor.

Research Reports

Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience

A study of how Ontario’s 2018 basic income pilot affected individuals and families in Hamilton and Brantford. Co-authored by Mohammad Ferdosi (McMaster University), Tom McDowell (Ryerson University) Wayne Lewchuk (McMaster University), and Stephanie Ross (McMaster University).

Read Southern Ontario’s Basic Income Experience Report (PDF)

Mapping the Void: Two-Spirit and LGBTIQ+ Experiences in Hamilton

A Research Partnership Among: McMaster University, The AIDS Network and Hamilton community researchers who identify as Two-Spirit and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex, Queer JUNE 11, 2019

Download Mapping the Void: Two-Spirit and LGBTIQ+ Experiences in Hamilton

Language Barriers and Workers’ Compensation Access in Ontario and Quebec

Language barriers and workers’ compensation access in Ontario and Quebec (Premji, Begum, Medley, MacEachen, Saunders), funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council. It reports on a comparative study of Quebec and Ontario workers’ compensation systems that examined how policies and practices facilitate or hinder access for injured workers who experience language barriers. 

Download the Language Barriers and Workers’ Compensation Access in Ontario and Quebec Report.

Extreme Employment Precarity and Health Impacts Among South Asians in Toronto

Extreme employment precarity and health impacts among South Asians in Toronto (Premji, Begum, Jahangir, Gnanayutham, McKinnon), funded by an Ontario Multicultural Community Capacity grant. It describes experiences of extreme employment precarity and impacts on health and well-being among South Asians in Toronto based on stories shared in the context of focus groups and an information workshop developed by the team of researchers and advocates.

Download the Extreme Employment Precarity and Health Impacts Among South Asians in Toronto Report.


Research Podcast

Lister to audio from the student and faculty at McMaster University's School of Labour Studies, Canada's leading program studying contemporary work, workers and social justice movements.

Mac Labour Studies Podcasts


Work in a Global Society

What is the Institute for Work in a Global Society (WIGS)?

WIGS is an interdisciplinary research group affiliated with the School of Labour Studies at McMaster University. We bring a social science perspective to issues of direct concern to paid and unpaid workers, and the institutions representing their interests. We have established links with researchers in the trade union community and at universities in a number of countries. WIGS facilitates research, holds regular seminars, and plans occasional conferences. We can facilitate trade unionists, researchers, faculty and graduate students wishing to visit McMaster and participate in our activities.

Learn more about WIGS

Graduate Research

Graduate Research

View our past student Major Research Project and Thesis titles.


View past MRP & Theses