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

  • Studies into paid domestic services, including Franco-British comparisons of the use of paid domestic services, the impact of state policy on the use of paid domestic services in France and the relationship between the use of paid domestic services and the gender division of domestic labour
  • Studies into the relationship between family and employment policy in France and its impacts on paid and unpaid work
  • Studies into the gender division of voluntary work in France and Britain
  • Research into primary caregiving fathers in France and Britain with colleagues from the Universities of Bath, Nottingham and Salford
  • Preparation of monograph on gender divisions of domestic labour in the twenty-first century.

Key Recent Publications

  • Windebank, J. (2012) ‘Social policy and gender divisions of domestic and care work in France’, Modern and Contemporary France, 20 (1), pp.21-36.
  • Williams, C.C. & Windebank, J (2011) ‘Regional variations in the nature of the shadow economy: evidence from a survey of 27 European Union member states’, in Schneider, H. (ed) Handbook of the Shadow Economy, Edward Elgar: Aldershot, pp.177-200.
  • Windebank, J. (2010) ‘Barriers to outsourcing domestic chores in dual-earner households’, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 30 (7/8) 2010, pp.387-398.
  • Windebank, J. (2009) ‘State support for domestic services: a comparison of the outsourcing of domestic cleaning in France and Britain, Journal of Contemporary European Studies, 17 (3), pp.437-499.
  • Windebank (2008) ‘Volunteering and the gender division of labour: a Franco-British comparison’, Community, work and family, 11 (3), pp.457-473.
  • Windebank, J. (2007) ‘Outsourcing women’s domestic labour: the Chèque Emploi Service Universel in France’, Journal of European Social Policy, 17(3):257-270
  • Windebank, J. (2006) ‘The Chèque Emploi-Service, the Titre Emploi-Service and the Chèque Emploi-Service Universel in France: the commodification of domestic work as a route to gender equality?’, Modern and Contemporary France, 14 (2), pp.189 – 204.

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

Professional activities

  • Editorial Board member of the International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy and the Journal of Contemporary European Studies
  • Newsletter editor of the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France
  • External examiner for undergraduate programmes at the University of Leeds and the University of Bath

Postgraduate Research

  • Melina Bangert, “Identities and the year-abroad experience”, 2010 - .
  • Abigail Taylor, “Child poverty in working families: a Franco-British comparison”, 2011 - .
  • Dr Catherine Morel, “Business sponsorship of the arts in France”, PhD awarded 2003.
  • Sophie Belot, “Gender and space in contemporary France”, MPhil awarded 1997.

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



  • FRE6671 Gender studies I
  • FRE6681 Case studies in the social sciences


  • FRE109 & FRE110 French Language and Communication I & II
  • FRE107 French Studies
  • FRE245 & FRE246 L’exclusion sociale en France
  • FRE341 & FRE342 Gender, society and economy in France