Prof Sarah Waters

Prof Sarah Waters

Professor of French Studies;

+44 (0)113 343 3473

Summary: The French workplace, labour theory, workplace suicides, documentary film, social protest, globalisation.


I was an undergraduate of French and Italian at University College Dublin and a postgraduate at the University of Limerick, where I completed an MA in European Integration and a PhD. I spent a year as a lectrice in Rouen and in 1993 was appointed to a lectureship in French at the University of Leeds, where I am now a Senior Lecturer.


I teach mainly 20th- and 21st-century French politics and society on the following modules: Readings in Modern French Society (Level 1); Politics and Society in France since 1945 (Level 2); Social and Ideological Change in France since 1968 (Level 3); Contemporary Political Issues in France (Level 3). I am module convenor for the French dissertation module (Level 3). I also contribute to teaching on other courses including language and literature.


I am currently leading a major AHRC fellowship (leaders fellowship scheme) on the phenomenon of workplace suicides in France during the period 2005-2015. The project is based on a collaboration with Prof Martin McKee, Professor of European Public Health at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Co-Director of European Observatory on Health Systems and Policies. The project was previously funded by a Wellcome Trust Seed Award.

Research Supervision

I offer research supervision in areas including the French workplace, theories of capitalism, social movement theory, protest and social conflict in contemporary France, new social movements, leftist intellectuals, globalisation and opposition in France and debates on the 2008 economic crisis.



Between Republic and Market. Globalization and Identity in Contemporary France (Continuum, 2012)

Memories of 1968: International Perspectives, eds. I. Cornils and S. Waters (Peter Lang, 2010)

Social Movements in France: Towards a New Citizenship (Palgrave/Macmillan, 2003) (See review by G. Hayes in Modern & Contemporary France, 13:3, August 2005, pp. 357-361)

Edited volumes

'New Voices? Alternative Politics in France Today', special issue of Modern & Contemporary France, vol. 12, no. 1 (2004), eds. J. Drugan, J. House and S. Waters

‘Rethinking the Left in France’ special issue of Journal of Contemporary European Studies, Vol. 16, Issue, 1, (April 2008), eds. J. House, B. Jenkins, J. Leaman and S. Waters 

Book chapters and articles 

‘Liberalisation, surveillance and suicide in the French workplace’ Modern & Contemporary France (Forthcoming, August 2018)

Workplace Suicide and States of Denial: The France Télécom and Foxconn Cases Compared’ Communication, Capitalism and Critique (15: 1, March 2017)

‘Suicide Voices. Testimonies of Trauma in the French Workplace’ Medical Humanities (Published online 9 September 2016)

‘When Work Kills’ Journal of Public Mental Health (Co-authors: Prof Martin McKee, Dr Marina Karanikolos). 15 (4) 2016, pp. 229-234 Awarded a 2017 Literati Award for Excellence ('Highly Commended')

'Disappearing Bodies: Documentary Film and the Workplace in an Era of Pure Money' French Cultural Studies (to appear in August 2015)

'A Capitalism that kills. Workplace suicides at France Télécom' French Politics, Culture and Society vol. 32, Issue 3, Winter 2014.

'Symbolic Power and the French paysans' in F. Royall and D. Chabanet eds. From Silence to Protest. International Perspectives on Weakly Resourced Groups (Ashgate, 2014)

'The 2008 Economic Crisis and the French Narrative of National Decline: une causalité diabolique' Modern & Contemporary France, November 2013.

‘French Intellectuals and Globalisation. A War of Worlds’ French Cultural Studies, November 2011.

'1968 in Memory and Place' in Waters and Cornils eds. Memories of 1968. International Perspectives (Peter Lang, 2010) 1-21.

‘Globalization, the Confédération paysanne and Symbolic Resistance’ French Politics, Culture & Society (28, 2) Summer 2010.

'Situating Movements Historically. May 1968, Alain Touraine and New Social Movement Theory', Mobilization, 13.1 (2008), 63-82

'A l'attac. Globalisation and Ideological Renewal on the French Left' Modern & Contemporary France, 14.2 (2006), 141-56 

'Mobilising against Globalisation. Attac and the French Intellectuals West European Politics, 27.5 (2004)
'Social Movements and Social Exclusion in the New France' in Contemporary French Cultures and Societies, ed. F. Royall (Peter Lang, 2004)

'Mouvements des chômeurs: Entretien avec une militante', Modern & Contemporary France, 8.3 (2000)
'Chambers of Commerce in Italy: A Model of Cooperative Development?', European Urban and Regional Studies, 6.2 (1999)

'New Social Movements in France: Une nouvelle vague citoyenne?', Modern & Contemporary France, 6.4 (1998)

'New Social Movement Politics in France: The Rise of Civic Forms of Mobilisation', West European Politics, 21.3 (1998)

'The Limits of Local Economic Intervention: The Case of the French and Italian Chambers of Commerce', Local Government Studies, 24. 3 (1998)

'Chambers of Commerce and Local Development in France: Problems and Constraints', Government and Policy, 16.4 (1998)

'Tangentopoli and the Emergence of a New Political Order in Italy', West European Politics, 17.1 (1994)


  • 'Suicidal Work' Feature article Hazards, 28 April 2017
  • An interview on my research was published in the Swedish newspaper Arbetsliv (9 January 2017).

  • “How work can lead to suicide in a globalised economy” (with Jenny Chan) The Conversation 16 August 2016
  • “On Work and Suicide” Counterpunch July 2016 (print version Vol 24, no 4)
  • “Who is Charile? Xenophobia and the New Middle Class” by Emmanuel Todd Book review Times Higher Education 20 August 2015
  • “Capitalism’s Victims” Jacobin 13 November 2014