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10 - Theorising Meaningful and Meaningless Waged Work

from Part III - Meaningful and Meaningless Waged 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

The previous chapter conceptualises the objective and subjective dimensions of autonomy, dignity and recognition with the aim of building a comprehensive meaningful wage labour theory that is informed by the interplay between human agency and structural conditions at the societal, workplace and agential level of analysis. This chapter follows this premise and identifies the parameters of theorising in the tradition of Critical Realism by first outlining the concepts of mechanisms and tendencies, before presenting the theorising technique of property spaces. Against this backdrop, the chapter moves on to analyse how the six meaningful work dimensions function as mechanisms whose interplay produce four hypothetical tendencies along the meaningful–meaningless work continuum. These hypothetical tendencies are matched with five empirical workplace studies from five different countries. The in-depth workplace studies illustrate the explanatory power of the framework along the continuum of meaningful-meaningless work. The analysis casts light on the benefits of the theory for illuminating the connections between work, employment and society through the lens of meaningful work.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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