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The brave new world of work

Dr Rosalind Gill, lecturer in gender theory and gender studies in the LSE Gender Institute, will present a documentary Brave New Work on Thursday 2 May at 8.30pm on Analysis, BBC Radio 4.

Some influential commentators argue that we have entered a brave new world of work where we can train to be an acupuncturist one year and set up a winery in Australia the next. We can constantly re-invent ourselves without being defined by what we do. In 100 years' time, the argument goes, today's struggles over jobs will seem like 'a fight over the deckchairs on the Titanic'.

In the UK, the number of start-up businesses has increased dramatically over the last few years, and in the United States the average male has had nine different jobs by the age of 32. Many people chose to give up permanent positions in favour of portfolio working attracted by its promise of more independence, flexibility and personal autonomy. But they also exchanged paid holidays, company pension plans and a stable working relationships for short-term employment without tangible benefits, often working alone and spending much of their time chasing the next contract.

But what does the fact that people now tend to work for several different employers rather than being loyal to one company all their working lives actually tell us? Is it simply evidence of a kind of 'serial monogamy' within the job market, or does it spell the death of career as we know it? After all, 80% of the jobs done in the UK are still done by permanent employees, and on average people still stay in jobs almost as long as they did 15 years ago.

Ros Gill examines the complex picture presented by today's labour market and asks whether -if it's true that we've entered a brave new world of work- this should be the cause of celebration or alarm.

For more information on the programme, visit http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/audiovideo/programmes/analysis/newsid_1947000/1947016.stm|

Ends

For more information or to interview Professor Rosalind Gill, please contact Jessica Winterstein on 020 7955 7060 or email j.winterstein@lse.ac.uk|

Notes:

Brave New Work will air Thursday 2 May at 8.30pm on Radio 4.

Presenter: Dr Rosalind Gill,  LSE
Producer: Ingrid Hassler

24 April 2002

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