Working Lives and Globalization. Researching Society and Culture Week 9 Dr Alice Mah. Lecture outline. Researching the working lives and globali z ation The changing nature of paid work Working lives and globalization : key concepts and debates Research examples Conclusion.
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Working Lives and Globalization Researching Society and Culture Week 9 Dr Alice Mah
Lecture outline • Researching the working lives and globalization • The changing nature of paid work • Working lives and globalization: key concepts and debates • Research examples • Conclusion
Researching working lives and globalization • The study of paid work and employment often involves quantitative research: measuring unemployment, labour market dynamics, and statistics, particularly for “macro” perspectives • Official labour market statistics examples: • Labour Force Survey (UK) • International Labor Organisation Statistics • The study of working lives, experiences, meanings, and understandings of work, are studied through qualitative methods, including ethnography and interviews.
The Changing Nature of Paid Work and Employment: Longitudinal research • For researching changes in work, a longitudinal perspective is important to capture change over time: a longitudinal study normally refers to a quantitative study of repeated observations of variables over a long period of time. • However, change over time can also be captured qualitatively (through photographs of work in different time periods and sectors, life/oral history interviews with workers, diaries and documents, et al).
The ‘End of Work’ Debate • A wide range of authors have argued that work and employment have changed dramatically, qualitatively and quantitatively, in the past half century (e.g. Sennett, Beck, Bauman, Gorz) • Common themes: fragmentation, individualization, acceleration and intensification of technological and global change, loss of solidarity and collective identity, end of the working class; increased flexibility, precariousness, risk, insecurity, instability: ‘the nostalgia for permanence at work’ (Strangleman 2007)
Working lives and globalization: broader context • Economic, political and social change (UK, North America, industrialized ‘west’, 1945-present): • from the post-WWII Keynesian, ‘Fordist’ welfare state, with high employment, good wages, benefits, and a strong manufacturing sector • to the economic crisis of the early 1970s (oil crisis, ‘stagflation’- inflation and stagnation at the same time) • to ‘post-Fordism’, the service economy, a rejection of the welfare principles of Keynesianism in favour of the priority of the market and individualism (‘neoliberalism’), workfare rather than welfare, the knowledge and information economy • to the current context of post-2008 recession…
Fordism • Fordism: system of economic and social coordination based on industrial mass production, named after Henry Ford • ‘Fordism’ was first coined by the Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci in the 1930s as a critical observation of capitalist regulation in America • mass assembly-line production of standardized products (e.g. Ford’s Model T) • based on ‘Taylorist’ theory of scientific management related to labour efficiency developed by Frederick Taylor • high wages so the worker could also become a ‘consumer’ (basis of mass consumer society model of capitalism) • a male workforce, regular hours , monotonous work • minimal labour conflict in exchange for high wages and benefits • became the dominant model of post-war, male manufacturing work in the UK, the US and the industrialized ‘west’
Post-Fordism • Post-Fordism is a way of describing a shift away from Fordism as the primary form of capitalist ‘regulation’ after the ‘crisis’ of Fordism in the early 1970s (the oil crisis, stagflation): • Flexible or ‘batch’ production of diversified products (‘just-in-time’ production-‘Toyotization’) • Linked to globalization of markets, polarisation of skills in the labour market (high and low skills), technological change (computers) • A move away from Keynesian principles of full employment, social spending and welfare, towards free market principles of ‘neoliberalism’ • Theorists of post-Fordism: (the Regulation School) Aglietta 1979; Amin 1994; Jessop 1991; Lipietz 1992 • Post-Fordism is widely debated as a concept (unevenness, co-existence with Fordist modes of production, universality)
Summary of key differences between Fordism and post-Fordism Source: Tonkiss, F. 2006. Contemporary Economic Sociology: globalization, Production, Inequality. London and New York: Routledge, pp. 96-97.
Theorising socioeconomic change: beyond Fordism and post-Fordism • Criticism: Fordist and post-Fordist forms of economic and social regulation overlap considerably (e.g. McDonald’s is a service-sector global chain based on a system of mass production) and are uneven. • Other ways of describing changes: • industrial to post-industrial (Daniel Bell’s 1973 The Coming of Post Industrial Society) • modernity to post-modernity (Harvey 1989), to ‘high modernity’ (Giddens 1991) or to ‘second modernity’ (Beck 1992) • The old economy to the ‘new economy’ (Leadbetter 2000), the network society (Castells 1996), the knowledge and information age, or the ‘new capitalism’ (Sennett 2005)
Working lives and socio-economic change • Shift from manufacturing to services in the industrialized west • ‘Deindustrialization’ or the decline of manufacturing: ‘capital flight’ in search of cheaper resources and labour, linked to globalization • Miners’ strike, 1984-85 in UK, British coal industry: iconic labour struggle related to Thatcherism and traditional ‘industry’ • Decline of trade unions’ strength and membership (Thatcher’s attack on unions) • Rise of service sector: IT jobs, call-centres, tourism, creative industries • ‘Hourglass economy’: the negative impact of economic restructuring on income distribution in the United States: many high-skilled IT and knowledge sector jobs that generate high income at the top, a lack of jobs that produce middle income, and numerous low-skilled service jobs that generate low income at the bottom (Bluestone and Harrison 1982)
Gender and changes in work • Decline in the male breadwinner model: No longer the dominant (Fordist) model of a male breadwinner with a stay-at-home mum: increasing flexibility and diversity in the labour market and households; dual-incomes are often necessary to support families; decline of the ‘nuclear family’ with rise in single-parent families • Feminisation of labour: linked to the decline in ‘traditional’ male jobs in manufacturing and the rise of service sector jobs, many at the lower end of the sector, which employ more women than men, particularly in part time work, care and cleaning. ‘Gendering’ of the debate on the rise of precarious work (Vosko2000). • Crisis of masculinity: related to the decline of the male breadwinner role, a source of unease, tension and a cause for domestic problems including violence in some cases (cf. Whitehead and Barrett 2001), more recently a phenomenon in Latin America and other ‘developing’ countries(cf. Chant 2000).
Work in the ‘Risk Society’ • rise of ‘precarious’, ‘irregular’ or ‘non-standard’ work which demands flexible hours, typically short term contracts with no benefits or security, often poorly paid, but also evident in higher paying knowledge economy jobs (IT, consultancy) • already widespread in ‘developing’ economies but increasingly evident in western industrialized countries. • concentrated in service sector: temping, part-time jobs, night-time economy, cleaning, call centres, hotel workers • also in low-skilled labour: construction, food supply chains • decline of the ‘job for life’ and the ‘9-5’
Debates: Flexible work or precarious work? • Precarious work: seen as high risk and problematic for social security, and to feminisation of labour and low-skilled migrant labour (Beck, Vosko) • ‘Precarity’ and precarious workers: a potential basis for social movements and political struggle • Yet ‘precariousness’ is a broad concept, difficult to define, and arguably is the ‘exception’ rather than the ‘norm’ historically (Rossiter and Neilson, Strangleman) • Flexible work: focuses on the perspective of firms and employers; too ‘overinscribed’ (‘the package deal’) yet also too reductive (Allen and Henry 1997) • ‘Flexicurity’ debate in Europe: flexibility plus security (flexibility isn’t bad in itself, as the 9-5 male breadwinner model is also problematic in terms of rigidity, monotony and gender relations…)
Harper: Changing Works • Harper, D. (2001) Changing Works: Visions of a Lost Agriculture. Visual methods, oral histories, interviews, US. (CE). • in-depth longitudinal qualitative study which traces the impacts of social, economic and cultural changes on agriculture in America, • in-depth interviews with dairy farmers in upstate New York, historical documents, and visual methods (analysis of over 100 photographs from the mid-20th century). • 'changing works' refers to the common practice within farming communities of exchanging and combining farm labour to do large agricultural jobs like threshing and haying • argues that the transition to larger and fewer farms has meant a loss in social solidarities within agricultural communities and negative implications for the environment.
Sennett: The Corrosion of Character • Sennett, R. (1998) The Corrosion of Character: The Personal Consequences of Work in the New Capitalism. (CE) • ethnographic/narrative interviews with workers, including IT workers, shop-owners, bakers, and others • argues that the uncertainty, de-skilling, short-termism and technological change in work processes has had negative personalconsequencesfor work identity, with a conflict between character and experience, making people feel less valued, more insecure, less satisfied and more isolated in the new economy.
Standing: The Precariat • Standing, G. (2011) The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London, Bloomsbury. Chapter 1. (CE) • Based primarily on secondary analysis of ILO statistics, media, and reports • Argues that a new ‘new dangerous class’ is emerging in advanced capitalist societies, the ‘precariat’ • The ‘precariat’ is a group of vulnerable and exploited workers who lack 7 types of labour-related security: labour market, employment, job, work, skill reproduction, income, and representation
Milkman: L.A. Story • Milkman, R. (2006) L.A. Story: Immigrant Workers and the Future of the U.S. LaborMovement. (CE) • Debates re: globalization, capital flight, and immigration in the context of declining work standards and growing income in equality in the US • focuses on poorly paid janitors, drywallers, truckers and garment immigrant workers’ struggles for labour organisation in Los Angeles • Methods: analysis of primary and secondary documents, interviews
Conclusion • The nature of paid work and employment-- and people’s working lives-- have changed significantly in the past half century, although the scale, extent, and value of this shift has been widely debated within sociological theories and research. • It is important to link research questions and theory with appropriate methods and empirical research examples: often macro theories cannot account for the complexities of lived experience (see seminar readings)