Labour

We must challenge the centrality of paid work in our lives

Unemployed people tend to have significantly worse health and wellbeing compared to people in paid work. With hundreds of empirical studies, this is one of the most persistent findings in social science research and holds across time and place.

In trying to explain the impact of unemployment on health, researchers have often been drawn to the social psychologist Marie Jahoda’s influential theory. […]

July 21st, 2018|Labour|1 Comment|
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    Following in the parents’ footsteps: nepotism or transfer of skills?

Following in the parents’ footsteps: nepotism or transfer of skills?

The observed low rate of social mobility in several contemporary societies is a matter of a lively debate. Is it the unavoidable consequence of the transmission (genetic or not) of skills and abilities? Or is it mostly the result of an unfair society that prevents an efficient allocation of talents and favours children with better social connections?

Liberal professions such […]

July 12th, 2018|Labour|0 Comments|
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    Misfit: what do you do when you can’t be yourself at work?

Misfit: what do you do when you can’t be yourself at work?

The misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them.  —   Steve Jobs
Most of us, like Steve Jobs, have come […]

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    We need full employment and fair incomes, not unemployment and basic incomes

We need full employment and fair incomes, not unemployment and basic incomes

The automation debate – whether robots will take your job – has led to a dangerous theory: we face mass unemployment, so we need a basic income. A host of billionaires support this theory: Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook, Elon Musk of Tesla, Pierre Omidyar of eBay, and maybe Jeff Bezos of Amazon. There is academic support. Two researchers did […]

Whether you like it or not, office politics is unavoidable

We meet many people in organisations who have an ingrained aversion to organisational politics. They see politics as divisive, sinister and illegitimate. They say: ‘Without politics, this organisation would function smoothly’. They are wary of the competition for jobs, status and power which often leads to dishonesty and manipulation. They fear that political skill is incompatible with personal authenticity […]

When work interrupts us after hours

The changing landscape of technology-enabled connectivity is shifting how our work and personal lives interface, especially how we juggle work and non-work demands. In large part due to the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices that blur the boundaries between our work and personal lives, work has now become a significant presence in our life outside the workplace, interrupting our […]

Taking #MeToo into global supply chains

Sexual harassment in the workplace is not a new phenomenon. There have been some well publicised episodes before – Clarence Thomas, Justice in the American Supreme Court, and more recently, Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel retail stores come to mind. But they appeared to be just that: isolated episodes. The flood of allegations unleashed by the #MeToo movement […]

High engagement at work leads to a better family life

For most people, work and family play an important role in adult life. Work provides us with material resources to ensure family life, and family provides us with love and responsibility to make our work more meaningful and valuable.

Although work gives us many resources, participating in the workforce can also deplete us. Especially in the absence of complementary resources […]

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    Workers in smaller companies are more likely to vote conservative

Workers in smaller companies are more likely to vote conservative

Does company size affect political attitudes and voting behaviour? This was the main question of our recent paper. Particularly, we wanted to examine whether company size matters for traditional and new centre-right voting among workers.

This is a relevant political and empirical question because we can observe a huge cross-country variation in Europe when it comes to the electoral success […]

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    BBC pay: We need equality all the way down – not just for the elite

BBC pay: We need equality all the way down – not just for the elite

The BBC recently published the salaries of all staff earning above £150,000 a year, sparking much controversy over the rewards apparently being received by its ‘star’ broadcasters and on-screen ‘talent’.

Of particular concern were the huge pay differentials between men and women. Of the top 20 highest earners, three quarters were men, with Chris Evans topping the list with an […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]