This scoping study, commissioned by the ESRC in 2013, and conducted by a team of researchers at WFRC, explored the changing world of work and contemporary work futures in light of globalisation, digitisation, demographic change and labour market restructuring. The main aims were twofold: first, to review existing knowledge and the established research base and identify where gaps and synergies occur; and second, to identify priorities for future ESRC research on the ‘new dynamics of work’.
The world of work is changing as processes of globalisation, digitisation, economic crisis, demographic and social change intersect to produce new forms of work, working and working lives. At the same time, enduring inequalities of gender, class, race and ethnicity, age and region continue to shape the patterning of work and employment as well as the experiences and relations of working lives. The ‘new dynamics of work’ must be understood as emergent and complex formations at the intersection of continuity and change.
‘Work’ includes both employment and unemployment, paid and unpaid work, in and outside formal workplaces. In order to better understand and respond to its increasing complexities and dynamics, research and policy must take the broadest possible interpretation of work.
An Advisory Panel of academic researchers, key informants from policy and practitioner backgrounds, a round table discussion and survey with Work Employment and Society conference delegates, and extensive review of the existing literatures and datasets contributed to the identification of nine interrelated themes emerging within contemporary research and policy on work. These are:
- Structural changes in the labour market
- New organisational forms
- New, emerging and newly-visible groupings of work and workers
- Unpaid work in public and private domains;
- Unemployment, worklessness and welfare
- Education, training and skills
- Transitions into, through and out of the labour market
- Subjectivities of work and well-being
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