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Market, Class, and Employment

Patrick McGovern|, Stephen Hill, Colin Mills, Michael White
Oxford University Press (November 2007)

Much of the received wisdom about the world of work emphasises the marketisation of the employment relationship; the decline of class-based forms of inequality, and the individualisation of employment relations. Non-standard forms of employment, the delayering of organisational hierarchies, and the use of individual performance-based payment systems are all held up as examples of a new neo-liberal order in which employers and employees no longer feel a sense of obligation to each other.

Drawing on a range of employee and employer surveys, including the authors own Working in Britain 2000 survey, this ambitious study presents a comprehensive examination of the conditions, attitudes, and experiences of British employees from the mid-1980s to the early years of this century. The authors' analyses provides a compelling critique of the received wisdom, while also providing an original, alternative account of recent developments in work and labour markets. Along the way, the book covers such topical issues as the changing nature of trade union membership, the consequences of Britain's 'long hours' culture', and the apparent inability of women to ask for pay rises. Significantly, the authors seek to reposition debates about the future of work by restoring the concepts of contracts and social class to the analysis of the employment relationship.

Based on the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded Future of Work research programme, this book is destined to shape our understanding of employment in Britain for the foreseeable future.

  • Patrick McGovern, senior lecturer, Department of Sociology, LSE
  • Stephen Hill, principal, Royal Holloway, University of London
  • Colin Mills, University lecturer in Sociology, Department of Sociology, Fellow of Nuffield College
  • Michael White, Emeritus fellow, Policy Studies Institute, University of Westminster

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