Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
RN17_02a: Perspectives of Intrinsic and Extrinsic Work
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Barbara Bechter, Durham University
Location: UP.1.218
University of Manchester Building: University Place, First Floor Oxford Road

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Rethinking Situated Learning: Participation and Communities of Practice in the UK Fire and Rescue Service

James Brooks, Irena Grugulis, Hugh Cook

Leeds University, United Kingdom

Studies reviewing the links between structure and skills tend to focus on experienced workers. But while there is consensus on the damaging effects of removing experienced workers, little has been written on the impact of taking out novices. The assumption seems to be that the loss of inexperienced workers is a minor inconvenience, with few consequences for the wider group.

This paper challenges the assumption that novices’ role in communities of practice (CoPs) is not significant. Novices change the dynamics of CoPs in two ways: first, by simply being there. Because novices need to gain skills, established members of the community are required to demonstrate, model or teach those skills, explicitly articulating taken-for-granted assumptions, remembering important incidents to recount and developing their own praxis through dialogue. Second, while novices may be inexperienced in the work of the CoP, they are not devoid of knowledge and their perspectives actively contribute to work practice. So learning through participation is multi-directional and more complex than previously assumed. Such a finding fits far better with the informal dynamics of a CoP than the idea that learning flows hierarchically, only in one direction and only for the duration of the novitiate.

The paper draws on a case study of a Fire and Rescue Service. The research involved 12 focus groups with 58 fire fighters, 14 semi-structured interviews and seven months’ of ethnographic observations of Red Watch and the senior management team.

The Workplace Challenges And Opportunities Of Supporting Employees Who Balance Employment With Unpaid Care

Mandy Cook

University of Sheffield, United Kingdom

How people who combine work and unpaid care can be supported in the workplace has become more important than ever before (Clancy et al., 2019). This paper will explore the challenges and opportunities facing businesses who have existing, well-established company-led initiatives designed to add value to their business by supporting working carers. Aligning to the core themes, challenges and opportunities highlighted in the UK industrial Strategy (2017), which sets out the government's plan to create an economy that boosts productivity and earning power throughout the UK, this new knowledge will then be used to explore future developments in working carer support in sectors of key importance for the Strategy (small and medium sized businesses, employers in regions with low skills/productivity). It makes business sense for employers to support carers (of a disabled, seriously-ill, or older loved one). Rapid growth in the number of people with caring responsibilities, especially among older workers, means that to thrive, businesses must adapt to the needs of their employees who are carers. Organisations that do not support carers risk difficulty in recruiting/retaining skilled workers and/or organisational disruption and productivity losses caused by staff absence, employee stress and high turnover (Carers UK, 2013). This paper draws on qualitative research conducted in the UK, involving 25 expert and stakeholder interviews with members of the Employers for Carers (Carers UK) forum in England and Wales, organisations recognised as a Carer Positive Employer in Scotland, and representatives of business, and industry organisations, as well as four industry placements. As part of a multi-national, multi-disciplinary, Sustainable Care research programme, this paper will also make comparisons with initiatives in Europe and beyond.

The Outcomes of Increasing Managerial Control in Academic Work: A Case from Social Sciences in Turkey

Selin Atalay

Izmir Bakircay University, Turkey

As neoliberal policies take effect throughout the world, the delivery of higher education is changing rapidly. The rise in student numbers together with cutbacks in public expenditures have been problematic in the delivery of this service. The result is the restructuring of academic work. We can refer to the intensification of academic work through the increase in outer control. Academics who have experienced a greater level of autonomy in the past are being controlled through various forms of mechanisms such as performance assessment, technological tools and student satisfaction surveys.

We can talk about a global trend towards the transformation of higher education and academic work. However, academics in different countries with varying degrees of resources and different higher education legacies have their unique experiences. Turkey as a labor intensive country has begun its restructuring journey in 1981 with the establishment of Higher Education Council (YÖK) and the establishment of foundation (private) universities. We can talk about the privatization and commodification of higher education in Turkey.

In order to understand the results of these developments, semi structured in-depth interviews have been conducted with 28 academics working in social sciences departments of 17 different institutions located in the cities of Istanbul and Izmir. ‘Labor Process Theory’ has been the framework in the preparation of interview themes and questions. It was seen that the experience of alienation together with superficiality in academic endeavors were the outcomes of the increase in managerial control. This paper aims to engage in a dialogue on the changing nature of academic work, to discuss the challanges Turkish academics are facing and to voice the experience of Turkish academics.

Young People Imagining the Future of Work

Miia Pauliina Lähde1, Päivi Honkatukia2

1University of Tampere, Finland; 2University of Tampere, Finland

Contemporary discussions on the future of the work often saturate around technologisation, digitalization, instability and risks. Future working life is claimed to be highly competitive with many traditional jobs and tasks disappearing. Yet, at the same time, the so-called labour market citizenship seems not to lose its central position as an indicator of a competent and productive citizenship and good life.

In the paper, we explore how young people relate to this question which is highly topical for them as they are soon to enter working life. We report findings from ALL-YOUTH project ( in which Finnish young people’s (aged 16-25) views of and aspirations for the future, sustainability and the different aspects of participation are studied. Drawing on data from participatory research workshops in different educational settings, we explore young people’s orientations to the future of work.

Despite the uncertainty of the future, young people in our study were mainly confident that technological advances will create new opportunities and enough work for everybody. According to our data, work is powerfully defined as an individual’s responsibility and a source of wellbeing in terms of social and economic wealth and meaningful life. Drawing on our research findings but acknowledging the current political, economic and ecological challenges to work as a provider of wellbeing, we contemplate possibilities for alternative collective visions of good citizenship, taking seriously the interconnectedness of wellbeing, meaningful life and sustainable social practices.