This article asks what sustains women union leaders’ long-term union participation given an internal environment often hostile to women and an external context antagonistic to unions. This article considers the dynamics of long-term participation by drawing on social movement interrelated concepts of commitment and collective identity in the context of a comparative study of American and British women union leaders. The study explores the experiences of 134 women union leaders, the majority of whom are long-term union participants. The findings reveal that commitment is strengthened by women’s experience of both expressive and intrinsic rewards but that such rewards are offset by costs, some of which are universal to union leadership, but others are particularly gendered. It was found that while a gendered collective identity may inform union collective identity, it is the union collective identity and associated solidarity that remains dominant in contemporary British and American women’s union leadership.
In recent years, workplace conflict has become increasingly manifest in individual employment disputes as collective labour regulation has been eroded. Accordingly, attention has been focused on finding ways to facilitate the early resolution of such disputes. Policy-makers have placed a particular emphasis on workplace mediation. However, the broader impact of mediation on conventional grievance and disciplinary processes and on the workplace relations that underpin them has been largely ignored. This article reports on research into the introduction of an in-house mediation scheme within a primary care trust. It explores the implications of the scheme for: workplace relations within the organization; the dynamics of conflict management; and trade union influence. It argues that the introduction of mediation provided a conduit through which positive workplace relations were rebuilt which in turn facilitated informal processes of dispute resolution. Furthermore, it allowed trade unions within the organization to extend their influence into areas traditionally dominated by managerial prerogative.
Despite a thriving tradition of critical scholarship in United Kingdom-based sociology of work, Burawoy’s call for a partisan organic public sociology that is part of ‘a social movement beyond the academy’ and Bourdieu’s plea for committed scholarship in the service of the social movement against neo-liberalism have received scant attention. This article seeks to stimulate debate by presenting a framework for a left-radical organic public sociology of work based on Gramsci’s concept of the connected organic intellectual rather than Bourdieu’s expert committed scholar. The latter, it is argued, is ultimately incompatible with activist partisan scholarship based on democratized relations between researchers and researched. Participatory action research is offered as a methodological orientation that underpins and enables organic scholars of work to engage actively with the marginalized and labour in the co-creation of knowledge that aids their struggles for change.
This article presents an individual’s experience of a strike lasting one year and nine months. It brings to readers’ attention the unrecognized work that is involved in maintaining a strike – the continuous organization of ‘working’ the strike, ongoing networking with other activists for support, constant quests for help from trade unions, politicians and others and ongoing campaigns to raise funding and awareness. It also highlights the personal, emotional and physical effects that working a strike can have on those involved, their families and their community.
There is a widely held assumption that product market strategies, skill and pay are linked. Supportive evidence is typically drawn from manufacturing and using quantitative analyses. Emergent research of the link in services is ambivalent and has methodological limitations. This article addresses this weakness. It compares the skills and pay of room attendants in upper and mid-market hotels using qualitative research. It finds that the link is weak, even decoupled. The findings suggest a reconceptualization is needed of the link in services and that interventions other than product market re-positioning are needed to deliver higher skills and better pay.
The article draws on data from in-depth interviews and testimonies with 75 young undocumented migrants from Brazil, China, Kurds from Turkey, Ukraine and Zimbabwe living in England. The article provides a detailed qualitative understanding of the working lives and decision making of undocumented migrants, a group about which little is known. Sectors of employment and working conditions are explored alongside job-seeking strategies and the role of and use of social capital in job seeking. Variations in employment experiences between undocumented migrants, particularly in relation to work within or outside of the ethnic enclave, are evident from the data. Moreover, the role of narrow, usually co-ethnic and often undocumented, social networks in finding work and the intersections between job-seeking strategies and being undocumented is clear throughout the narratives.
There are few quantitative studies that show the workplace is experienced in a different way by employees with disabilities. This article fills this gap using data from the British Workplace Behaviour Survey, which found that employees with disabilities and long-term illnesses were more likely to suffer ill-treatment in the workplace and experienced a broader range of ill-treatment. Different types of disability were associated with different types of ill-treatment. The survey also showed who employees with disabilities blamed for their ill-treatment and why they believed the ill-treatment had occurred. Drawing on the existing literature, four possible explanations for ill-treatment are considered: negative affect raises perceptions of ill-treatment; ill-treatment leads to health effects; ill-treatment results from stigma or discrimination; ill-treatment is a consequence of workplace social relations. Although some of these explanations are stronger than others, the discussion shows that more research is required in order to decide between them.
The creative industries have recently been hailed as presenting a liberating model for the future of work and a valuable terrain on which to examine purported new regimes of workplace control. This article, based on the empirical examination of a Canadian video game development studio, traces the modes of control which operate on and through project teams in creative settings. The impact of the adoption of an ‘emancipatory’, post-bureaucratic project management technology, ‘Agile’, is critically examined through interviews and non-participative observation of management, technical and artistic labour within one project team. The potential for autonomy in such ‘Agile’ teams is critically assessed within the managerial regime of creative production and the broader power relations implied by the financial, organizational and institutional context.
Mothers are increasingly likely to be the main or equal earners in heterosexual couples with children. This study assesses the impact of the mother being the main or an equal earner on her partner’s hours of work. The performance of normative gender roles predicts that fathers increase their hours whereas specialization theories predict they will decrease their hours. Another possibility is that fathers work fewer hours because they have a relatively weak labour market position. We test these alternative propositions using panel data on co-resident parents from the UK’s Millennium Cohort Survey. The results show that fathers with a female partner who is the main earner work considerably fewer hours than other fathers. This also holds for equal-earner fathers to a lesser extent. In part, fathers work fewer hours because their partner is the main or an equal earner, but they are also less likely to work in occupations entailing long hours.
This article examines young construction industry professionals’ experiences of working long hours from the perspective of the meanings that they ascribe to work time and how these influence the hours that they work. It considers how such notions of ‘qualitative’ time spent on work may shape attitudes and behaviour relating to ‘quantitative’ work hours. The findings show that, for the interviewees, work time has meanings chiefly associated with enjoyment, being professional and being part of a work family. The article contributes to the long work hours literature by broadening our understanding of how young professionals experience long work hours, why they may not always view them negatively and how the meanings that they attach to them can lead to particular patterns of work hours. It also highlights gender differences in this regard.
There has been considerable debate about the impact of different national institutional environments on work organization. The Nordic countries, with their strong trade unions and well developed systems of social partnership around collective bargaining and vocational education and training, are found to be particularly advanced when it comes to developing more autonomous job roles. While institutions are said to play a key role, some commentators point to the existence of national employment ‘logics’ which may have a more far-reaching influence. Drawing upon qualitative research, the article compares the job of fitness instructor in Norway and the UK. The study finds little evidence of a clear country-level difference in job design, suggesting that if there is a national employment ‘logic’ it has been overwhelmed by specific industry dynamics.
Employment regime theory is used to examine whether cross-national variation in call centre job quality is a result of differences in national institutional regime, i.e. inclusivist, dualist and market regimes. Analysis of an establishment-level survey of 1734 call centres revealed that, as expected, call centre job quality was highest in inclusivist regimes (Denmark, Sweden) and higher in dualist regimes (Austria, France) than in market regimes (Canada, UK, USA). Job quality in Germany, a dualist regime, was of a similar level to that in inclusivist regimes. There was also evidence that, only within dualist regimes, job quality was higher in call centres attached to larger firms than in independent call centres. The findings suggest that national institutional regimes are still sufficiently different and influential to produce cross-national variations in job quality, and have not been weakened and homogenized as a result of the internationalization of national economies.
The article addresses the issue of multi-national employers’ effects on employment practices and industrial relations through the findings of 12 case studies of multi-nationals in the Czech Republic, in the automotive and finance sectors. It is found that in the automotive sector, where product markets are international, there is more transnational organizational co-ordination, but companies avoid transferring their employee participation practices, preferring unilateral management and leading to vertical segmentation between Western and Eastern European sites. In finance, companies from liberal market economies transfer sophisticated direct participation practices, also for anti-union purposes, as firm-specific advantages. The industrial relations outcome shows enduring gaps with Western European practices.