Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN17_10a: Changing Work and Labour Relations
Friday, 23/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Peter Kerckhofs, Eurofound
Location: UP.1.218
University of Manchester Building: University Place, First Floor Oxford Road

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The Map Is Not The Territory. Contested Space In Food Delivery Work

Heiner Heiland

Technical University Darmstadt, Germany

Space is at the centre of food delivery platforms. Therefore, space as a contested terrain of the labour process is a key instrument of work control. On a broad and deep empirical basis, the paper outlines new control techniques in platform work. The surveillance and production of space, which has hitherto been neglected in sociology of work, is of special importance.

The labour process is understood as a micropolitical confrontation in which the antagonistic actors create agency via uncertainty zones (Crozier/Friedberg 1980). Following Löw (2016) the paper analyses the contested and antagonistic practices of space constitution by the different actors via the processes of spacing and synthesis.

The research is based on 35 interviews, ethnographic data through own courier work (>500h), a quantitative online survey (n= 251) and the analysis of online chat groups.

In order to control work, the platforms produce the space the couriers are using. They create different delivery zones, keep their borders non-transparent and change them regularly. Since the maps’ structures sometimes do not even match the territory, they cause a change in the drivers’ perception of space, undermining their tacit knowledge and resources of action.

Additionally, mandatory GPS-localization is a necessary information for the platforms’ efficient allocation of the orders but at the same time devaluates the riders’ dispersion in space as a power resource. As a counter strategy, couriers use Fake-GPS-Apps to obscure their actual location, showing that space is an object of contestation.

How Much or Little Work is Good for You? A Shorter Working Week, Well-being and Mental Health

Daiga Kamerāde1,2, Senhu Wang2, Brendan Burchell2, Ursula Balderson2, Adam Coutts2

1University of Salford, United Kingdom; 2University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

There are predictions that in future rapid technological development could result in significant shortage of paid work. A possible solution currently debated by academics, policy makers, trade unions and mass media, is a shorter working week for everyone. In this context, two important research questions that have not been asked so far are: what is the minimum amount of paid employment needed to get some or all of the well-being and mental health benefits that employment is shown to bring? And what is the optimum number of working hours at which the workers mental health is at its highest? Using data from 156,440 person-wave observations from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (2009-2018) we found that even a small number of working hours (usually eight or less hours a week) generates mental health and well-being benefits for previously unemployed or economically inactive individuals. The initial benefits boost is more pronounced for men than women. Our findings suggest that there is no single optimum number of working hours at which well-being and mental health are at their highest - we found that for most groups of workers working anything more than no hours per week is related to very similar levels of mental health and well-being to the current standard of 35 to 40 hours work. Our findings provide an important and timely empirical evidence for future of work planning, shorter working week policies and have significant implications for theorising the future models of organising work in society.

Social Perception Towards Automation In Spanish Labour Market

Salvador Manzanera-Román

University of Murcia, Spain

The main goal of this paper is to analyze the social perception towards automation process and its impact on Spanish labour market, comparing to the rest of EU countries. This aim was tackled by means of quantitative techniques. Secondary sources of statistical information were used. Firstly, the survey “Percepción social de la innovación en España” for the period 2017-2018 in Spain and secondly, the Special Eurobarometer 460 “Attitudes towards the impact of digitization and automation on daily life” made in 2017 for EU countries.

Spanish labour market is facing the challenge presented by automation process. It presents structural weaknesses that are materialized in elements such as unemployment, temporary and partial-time contracts, the types of low-skilled occupations created after the crisis. These elements put workers at risk to face the inevitable automation process.

In this context, it is important to know what the impression of people and workers is on automation process and its impact on jobs, occupations and social inequality. The results show that Spanish people are more pessimistic than people of the rest of EU countries: 90% Spanish people believe that robots and artificial intelligence steal peoples' jobs; two thirds think that robots will substitute by people; nearly the half believe that lost jobs will not be compensated by new ones; however, two thirds think that can compete in the automated labour market. Therefore, most people think that innovation and automation destroy employment and increase social and economic inequality.

Factors of Successful Formation of New Employment Segments of the Population on the Depressive Labor Market

Nina Arsentyeva

Institute of Economics and Industrial Engineering, Russian Federation

The negative changes that are characteristic of the Russian labour market become more apparent in the rural area.

Peculiar to the modern rural labour market are the following features: narrow sphere of labour application, low quality of workplaces and of labour power, high level of real and registered unemployment. Practically everywhere the rural unemployment is chronic and stagnant. The economic crisis has aggravated the existing problems, which manifests itself in a further increase of unemployment and tension at the labour market, in a slowdown of workplace creation, an increase of concealed unemployment, and in a rise of accrued payroll. In the existing situation, worthy of notice is the discussion of such transformations in the complex of social policy measures that can ease the tension at the labour market by creating new working places

The study analyzes the results of activating both individual personal resources and the capabilities of external labour market institutions in creating new jobs in the context of economic depression.

Among these, the support of small business and of self-employment as well as assistance to the unemployed in opening one’s own business are worthy of particular attention.

The study was performed as a case study.


Key words: labour market, disqualification, unemployment, labour power

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