The book makes a major new contribution to the sociology of employment by comparing the quality of working life in European societies with very different institutional systems – France, Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Sweden. It focuses in particular on skills and skill development, opportunities for training, the scope for initiative in work, the difficulty of combining work and family life and the security of employment. Drawing on a range of nationally representative surveys, it reveals striking differences in the quality of work in different European countries. It also provides for the first time rigorous comparative evidence on the experiences of different types of employee and an assessment of whether there has been a trend over time to greater polarization between a core workforce of relatively privileged employees and a peripheral workforce suffering from cumulative disadvantage. It explores the relevance of three influential theoretical perspectives, focussing respectively on the common dynamics of capitalist societies, differences in production regimes between capitalist societies and differences in the institutional systems of employment regulation. It argues that it is the third of these – an ’employment regime’ perspective – that provides the most convincing account of the factors that affect the quality of work in capitalist societies. The findings underline the importance of differences in national policies for people’s experiences of work and point to the need for a renewal at European level of initiatives for improving the quality of work.Read More
Tag: Labour Markets
Good Jobs, Bad Jobs: The Rise Of Polarized And Precarious Employment Systems In The United States 1970s To 2000s
The economic boom of the 1990s veiled a grim reality: in addition to the growing gap between rich and poor, the gap between good and bad quality jobs was also expanding. The postwar prosperity of the mid-twentieth century had enabled millions of American workers to join the middle class, but as author Arne L. Kalleberg shows, by the 1970s this upward movement had slowed, in part due to the steady disappearance of secure, well-paying industrial jobs. Ever since, precarious employment has been on the rise―paying low wages, offering few benefits, and with virtually no long-term security. Today, the polarization between workers with higher skill levels and those with low skills and low wages is more entrenched than ever. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs traces this trend to large-scale transformations in the American labor market and the changing demographics of low-wage workers. Kalleberg draws on nearly four decades of survey data, as well as his own research, to evaluate trends in U.S. job quality and suggest ways to improve American labor market practices and social policies. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs provides an insightful analysis of how and why precarious employment is gaining ground in the labor market and the role these developments have played in the decline of the middle class. Kalleberg shows that by the 1970s, government deregulation, global competition, and the rise of the service sector gained traction, while institutional protections for workers―such as unions and minimum-wage legislation―weakened. Together, these forces marked the end of postwar security for American workers. The composition of the labor force also changed significantly; the number of dual-earner families increased, as did the share of the workforce comprised of women, non-white, and immigrant workers. Of these groups, blacks, Latinos, and immigrants remain concentrated in the most precarious and low-quality jobs, with educational attainment being the leading indicator of who will earn the highest wages and experience the most job security and highest levels of autonomy and control over their jobs and schedules. Kalleberg demonstrates, however, that building a better safety net―increasing government responsibility for worker health care and retirement, as well as strengthening unions―can go a long way toward redressing the effects of today’s volatile labor market. There is every reason to expect that the growth of precarious jobs―which already make up a significant share of the American job market―will continue. Good Jobs, Bad Jobs deftly shows that the decline in U.S. job quality is not the result of fluctuations in the business cycle, but rather the result of economic restructuring and the disappearance of institutional protections for workers. Only government, employers and labor working together on long-term strategies―including an expanded safety net, strengthened legal protections, and better training opportunities―can help reverse this trend.Read More
Kirsten Sehnbruch uses the case study of Chile to show the failures and inner-working of neo-liberal labour policy. She shows in detail what the real policy issue should be, namely the creation of proper institutions and of a corps of competent professionals with relevant skills and powers to operate them.Read More
The rapid pace of industrial restructuring and the emergence of new employment policies have focused attention on the role of employers in determining the quantity and quality of employment. This book draws on important new data from the ESRC’s Social Change and Economic Life Initiative to test, modify, and challenge much of the current academic literature on the determinants of employer policy and how these influence employment structures and individual employment opportunities.
The book begins with an authoritative synthesis of the influential debates on labour market segmentation, flexibility, post-Fordism, deskilling, the gendering of work, and the `new’ industrial relations. Ten substantive chapters then extend these debates in several directions.
The contributors make significant progress on three fronts:
• They suggest that the determinants of employer policy are both complex and strongly related to product market conditions.
• They find that employee attitudes and perceptions are critical to the implementation and effectiveness of employer policy.
• They explore the interdependency between internal employment policies and external labour market conditions and begin to develop an integrated approach to internal and external labour markets.
Labour market, work and economic development policy visions in many developed countries have been dominated in recent years by a fixation on skills. However, skill and skill development alone is not enough to harmonise societies, transform economies, galvanise organizations, and fulfil individuals.
This book discusses the impact of government policy, other institutional arrangements, organizational practices, collective and individual behaviour, on things of importance to many of us: work, employment, pay, work environments, learning, participation and voice. It is a unique volume of insights from leading researchers and research centres in the UK, Australia and New Zealand.Read More