The Puzzle of Work: Insecurity and Stress <i>and</i> Autonomy and Commitment

Edwards Paul

in Understanding Social Change

Published by British Academy

Published in print February 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263143
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734939 | DOI:

Series: British Academy Centenary Monographs

The Puzzle of Work: Insecurity and Stress and Autonomy and Commitment

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This chapter suggests that the nature of work in Britain changed dramatically during the last thirty years of the twentieth century. Sectoral shifts included a move from manufacturing towards services. There were also major shifts from the public sector to the private sector: between 1980 and 1998 the proportion of employees accounted for by private sector services rose from 26% to 44%. Part-time and temporary workers also became more common. These changes are often claimed to be associated with some more general transformations in the nature of work in Britain. One view holds that there have been improving levels of skills and training and better communication in the workplace. Another view holds that there have been increased levels of effort and stress. This chapter attempts to explain why rising skill levels, employee autonomy and commitment have been accompanied by widespread reports of increases in stress, lengthening working hours and a sense of a lack of control over one's working life.

Keywords: work; sectoral shifts; workplace; stress; skill levels; employee autonomy; commitment

Chapter.  12325 words. 

Subjects: Social Research and Statistics

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