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4 - The Politics of Working Life

from Part I - Problems in Analyses of Meaningful Work

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 November 2023

Knut Laaser
Affiliation:
University of Stirling
Jan Ch. Karlsson
Affiliation:
Karlstads Universitet, Sweden
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Summary

In this chapter we suggest that a fundamental shortcoming of the meaningful work scholarship is the neglect or misrepresentation of employee agency. Indeed, when employee groups, teams and communities are mentioned in the literature, they are associated with the formal work organisation – not informal self-organised groups, teams and communities among workers. This position turns a blind eye to the politics of working life and the multi-layered consequences of the interplay between structure and agency. Addressing this issue, this chapter argues that employers seldom provide workers with meaningful wage labour for its own sake; to the extent meaningful work exists, workers mainly capture it with the help of informal self-organisation and trade unions. Therefore, in this chapter we stress the importance of employee agency in the politics of working life for attaining meaningful wage labour.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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