The University of Sheffield
Department of French

Professor Jan Windebank

Professor of French and European Societies

Telephone: (0114) 222 4888


BSc in Modern Languages (Aston University); PhD (University of Bath)


In 1981, I began a degree in Modern Languages (French & German) at Aston University. At the time, this was one of only a handful of universities that offered modern language courses based on social scientific rather than literary studies. After graduating with a First Class Honours in 1985, I commenced a PhD in the School of Modern Languages at the University of Bath. I obtained my doctorate in 1989 and held my first post as Lecturer in the School of Languages and European Studies at the then Wolverhampton Polytechnic. I joined the Department of French at Sheffield in 1990, first as Lecturer, then as Senior Lecturer from 1997 and was awarded a Personal Chair in 2009.

Research Interests

My research takes as its overarching theme 'informal work' (that is, forms of work other than formal employment). Within this broad category, I have had two principal interests: on the one hand, gender and informal work and on the other, the informal sector and social exclusion. I have undertaken research on these themes in the context of France and Europe and have also carried out Franco-British cross-national comparisons.

The first strand of this research on gender and informal work has included analyses of the domestic labour debates in France, Franco-British comparisons of employed mothers' childcare strategies, evaluations of the impact of French state policy on gender divisions of labour in the home, policy towards paid domestic services in France, Franco-British comparisons of the use of paid domestic services and their impact on gender divisions of domestic labour and Franco-British comparisons of gender and voluntary work. Current research focuses on the relationship between employment and family policy in France, in particular during the Sarkozy era.

The second strand addresses the question of using informal work as a tool for tackling social exclusion in a European perspective. The book Informal Employment in the Advanced Economies: implications for work and welfare, published in 1998 by Routledge was the first publication to recognise and theorise the heterogeneity of the paid informal sector in the advanced economies. The book Poverty and the Third Way, published by Routledge in 2003, analyses the role that informal work could play in tackling poverty in Europe. More recently, this research has focused on analysing the results from a 27-country Eurobarometer survey of undeclared work within the theoretical and conceptual framework outlined in the 1998 Routledge publication.

Current and Recent Research Projects

Key Recent Publications

Full list of publications (MS Word file, 25KB)

Professional activities

Postgraduate Research

Potential areas for supervision: gender, family and employment policy in France or in a European comparative perspective; gender divisions of labour in France or in a comparative European perspective; informal work and employment and social exclusion in France or in a comparative European perspective