Sociology for Unionists

This course will explore how you can apply liberation sociology to your union work.


Social and History

Intended Audience

Delegates and Activists, Organisers and Campaigners, Specialist Staff

Delivery Mode



3 x 4 hours




This course introduces Liberation Sociology, a framework that will equip you with tools to engage in liberation for all those who experience exclusion and exploitation because of class, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, disability, and age. 

Beginning with an analysis of our material conditions, particularly the class structure of capitalist society, the course explores the way power and wealth are concentrated in the hands of the few. 

It introduces you to the dialectical method which will enable you to interrogate a situation exposing the root causes of injustice. Using dialectics will help you reach out to workers and galvanise them in collective struggle to achieve social change. 


By the end of this course, participants should be able to:

  • Define the material base as a means of understanding the key elements that lead to inequality in society 
  • Identify the features of neoliberalism 
  • Analyse the causes of and solutions to insecurity, injustice and inequality 
  • Define dialectics and engage in the dialectical method to uncover and critique the root causes of injustice in a situation 
  • Identify how you can shape and change a situation by engaging in the struggle for liberation 
  • Identify how you can apply liberation sociology to your union work 


What is sociology?

Definition and how sociology applies to our union work

Understanding our material base

Features of neoliberalism
Analysis of our concrete conditions and how society is organised
Who has power and why?

Using dialectics

What is the dialectical method?
Using dialectics to critique inequality

Struggle for liberation

Interconnectedness of workers’ struggles
Application of sociology to achieve liberation

Delivery Style

This course will comprise presentations and facilitated discussion by an expert practitioner along with interactive group work to apply theory to practice in the form of case studies. It also creates space for self-reflection on how sociology applies to and is embedded in union work.


Dr John Falzon

Senior Fellow, Inequality and Social Justice, Per Capita

Sociologist, poet, social justice advocate and national CEO of the St Vincent de Paul Society from 2006 to 2018.

John has written and spoken widely on neoliberalism and the structural causes of inequality and has long been engaged in the collective movement for social justice and social change.

John is a lifelong unionist and proud member of the Australian Services Union.



Credly Badge

Course Enrolment

Please note, in order to enrol you must be a:
  • union officer or official and have sought approval from your union to attend; or
  • financial member of an ACTU affiliated union


Part 1
17 October – 11:00am to 3:00pm

Part 2
24 October -11:00am to 3:00pm

Part 3
31 October – 11:00am to 3:00pm

Enrol here