Labour

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    Gig economy: Disruption can bring benefits for workers and consumers

Gig economy: Disruption can bring benefits for workers and consumers

The world of work is being transformed, driven by rapid developments in technology, globalisation, and demographic change. Now, the concept of ‘employment’ itself seems to be increasingly past its sell-by date. A proliferation of new, online platforms has made access to paid work easier and more efficient than ever before by instantaneously connecting people who have work they need […]

Emancipating ourselves from emotional repression at work

Are your emotions always yours? If you think so, you’d better think again. In a recently published book, I argue that emotions are often used by organizations to manipulate and repress workers.

“So what?” you might wonder . . . Are organizations not supposed to explore ways to control the behaviour of their staff so that it supports the bottom […]

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    Co-workers and makers: New public policies and corporate strategies for the city

Co-workers and makers: New public policies and corporate strategies for the city

Collaborative movements and communities—co-workers, makers, hackers, and fabbers— stir tremendous controversy because they expose all the paradoxes and contradictions of the ongoing transformations of work practices and capitalism. Work is being redefined by the growing number of entrepreneurs and freelancers while organisations are being transformed by a new work ethos. The ‘do-ocracy’ is establishing itself as the favoured organisational […]

Working the phones

For the purpose of  my new book, I spent six months undercover in a UK call centre. The focus of the research was to understand questions of control and resistance from the perspective of call centre workers themselves. This kind of covert ethnography – studying a phenomenon from the point of view from the subject of the study – used […]

Why robots aren’t the enemy

It is scary fun to think that the robot buddy who is making life a bit easier and products a bit cheaper will next week steal your job, that the bot that reads your laptop cookies will destroy your freedom of choice, or that super-intelligent algorithms mean that we will all end up working for machines. I propose, rather, […]

The coming jobs boom in the age of intelligent machines  

Central to the election of President Trump, the populist support of Brexit, and the distrust of so many institutions at the heart of the modern world, are concerns about the future of work; Who or what has taken my job? what are the jobs of the future? How do I – or my kids – get them? Where are […]

Future of work: making a living from cutting our own hair?

There is currently much debate on the future of paid employment in light of technological advancements within a range of areas, such as speech recognition, robotics, artificial intelligence, etc. Evocative imagery is presented ranging from a rather prosaic future of self-driving cars and lorries to the digital immortality of bodiless beings. I wish here to emphasise more immediate and […]

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    Future of Work: taking the blinkers off to see new possibilities

Future of Work: taking the blinkers off to see new possibilities

Anybody relying for their information on the current headlines would find it hard to make sense of what is happening in the labour market. On the one hand, the news media are awash with apocalyptic forecasts, often backed up by studies from reputable organisations such as the US National Bureau of Economic Research , the Oxford Martin School or […]

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    Explaining how mindfulness consistently brings positive workplace outcomes

Explaining how mindfulness consistently brings positive workplace outcomes

Mindfulness training has become a hot management trend, as leading organisations like Aetna and British Parliament increasingly offer mindfulness programs for employees. This growth is fuelled by research supporting the benefits of mindfulness for workplace functioning, from focus and burnout to job performance and leadership. Yet this interest has glossed over the almost-comical reality of applying contemplative practices like […]

Work 4.0: How Germany is shaping the future of work

How to shape the future of work

In November 2016, the German Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, headed by social democrat Andrea Nahles, published the white paper “Work 4.0”. It’s the result of an 18-month dialogue process mapping out the challenges for the world of labour and injecting policy proposals in the political debate. The dialogue involved a wide […]

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    Like second-hand smoke, racial discrimination at work can affect bystanders

Like second-hand smoke, racial discrimination at work can affect bystanders

The toxic effects of racism can extend well beyond the target. Our research reveals that, like second-hand smoke, the negative effects of racial discrimination at work can affect third-party bystanders. This is called ambient racial discrimination, and it includes a range of workplace experiences, such as directly witnessing racial discrimination aimed at others, hearing about racist incidents, seeing graffiti or […]

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    Employees v. entrepreneurs: Have the two categories become irrelevant?

Employees v. entrepreneurs: Have the two categories become irrelevant?

Most debates about work today focus on the joint evolution of entrepreneurs versus employees. Some academics believe we are moving towards an entrepreneurial society. Others focus on the increasing precariousness of work, but clearly qualify the thesis of a move towards an entrepreneurial society. In the context of this short reflexion, we simply want to question the categories themselves.

Entrepreneurs […]

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    Work improves general happiness, but are you happy while you work?

Work improves general happiness, but are you happy while you work?

Most research on happiness relies on surveys that ask people to reflect back on and evaluate their experiences ‘these days’ or ‘nowadays’. In doing so, respondents usually attach weight to events that are related to their overall sense of wellbeing or satisfaction with their lives.

These studies find consistent evidence that paid work contributes substantially to overall life satisfaction and […]

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    A matter of principles: the psychodynamics of solidarity in trade unions

A matter of principles: the psychodynamics of solidarity in trade unions

People walking on gray pavement, by Unsplash, under a CC0 licence
Despite women working in higher education still being paid 12 per cent less than men and half of all teaching staff on precarious contracts, last month 57 per cent of my union’s members voted against taking industrial action over decent pay in education. You don’t need to be an […]

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    The media and policymakers don’t realise that the role of trade unions has expanded

The media and policymakers don’t realise that the role of trade unions has expanded

Teachers, college lecturers and DWP staff on strike, by Roger Blackwell, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
When we think about trade unions there are various images that come to mind. Normally these relate to forms of collective action and strikes, the late night negotiations with employers over pay increases, and the political role they play as in the current internal Labour Party […]

Management teaching promotes inequality

Hult International Business School, by Jay Cross, under a CC-BY-2.o licence
The burgeoning economic inequality between the richest and the poorest across the world is a cause of concern for social, political, and ethical reasons. In 2016 the Oxfam Davos report revealed that 62 people only own the same as half of the world, representing an increase of 38 per cent […]

How we treat those who are excluded from the world of work

UK Job Centre, by J J Ellison, own work, under a CC BY-SA 3.0 licence, via Wikimedia Commons
I, Daniel Blake, the prize-winning film directed by Ken Loach, mounts a powerful and moving challenge to the way vulnerable people are treated in Britain’s welfare system. Predictably, Iain Duncan Smith who as Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) […]

When a psychologist’s true calling is social activism

Small section of the crowd, London G20 protests April 2009, by Kashfi Halford, under a CC-BY-NC-2.0 licence
It all started at the LSE in 1972. I’d just successfully completed a post graduate diploma in social policy to add to my degree in psychology and felt troubled. My degree had mainly covered behaviourism, new research on sensory perception and a sneering glance […]

Changing jobs does not necessarily bring you happiness

Image by geralt, under a CC0 licence
Searching and hiring workers imposes high costs on firms, not least when it comes to vacancies that need to be filled with extraordinary talents. Once a worker is hired, it is important to ensure a successful integration of the newcomer. The key process here is organisational socialisation, which renders a new worker, who […]

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    Perversion at work: organising colleagues against one another

Perversion at work: organising colleagues against one another

Sandro Botticelli – Inferno, Canto XVIII (cropped), Public Domain
Perversion happens even in the best of companies. One can encounter it in education, in big multi-nationals, in handicraft businesses, or in a small neighbourhood store. Yet no matter where a ‘pervert kernel’ crops up, its victims suffer.

Psychoanalysis offers us important tools for understanding the darker side of relational complications in […]