The Insecure Workforce

The Insecure Workforce

The Insecure Workforce

The Insecure Workforce


Specific issues considered in The Insecure Workforce include:

-- labor markets and the growth of insecure work

-- the management of insecure work

-- trade unions and the representation of insecure workers

-- job insecurity and personal well being

-- insecurity and consumption

-- insecurity and political behavior.

This book will be of interest to students and academics working within the disciplines of management, industrial relations, sociology and economics, who are concerned with employment and labor market change.


In recent years there has been something of a moral panic over increased workforce insecurity, and the issue has featured prominently in media and political debate. It is widely believed that jobs have become less secure, that the life-time career is disappearing and that an expanding proportion of employment contracts are temporary, part-time and contingent. The blame for this state of affairs has been variously laid at the door of the global economy, the economic shorttermism fostered by financial institutions and markets, and the deregulatory appetites of governments such as those of Margaret Thatcher and John Major in Britain. The consequences of the move to employee insecurity are felt to be a workforce which is more vulnerable to exploitation and a series of adverse changes, including the erosion of worker commitment within the workplace and political alienation and reduced consumer confidence beyond.

The purpose of this collection of essays is to test these and associated claims about the direction, causes and consequences of labour market change in the developed economies. It draws upon a number of academic fields (human resource management, industrial relations, labour economics, the sociology of employment, occupational psychology and social policy) and seeks to intervene authoritatively in the debate over insecurity through a review of available and relevant evidence. The collection originated in a conference with the same title organised by the Employment Research Unit at Cardiff Business School in September 1997, but each of the chapters has been specially commissioned for this volume and takes the form of a review essay dealing with a particular facet of the ‘insecure workforce’. The result, we hope, is an integrated volume which brings together scholars from diverse backgrounds to address a common theme which has mounting salience in Britain, North America, the Far East, Australia, New Zealand and continental Europe.

In putting the collection together we have incurred a number of debts and owe thanks, first, to our contributors who have found time within busy schedules to devote attention to a project which lies slightly outside the mainstream of academic publication. Second, we would like to thank the staff of Cardiff Business School for their support, and offer particular thanks to Julie Roberts, who organised the original conference, and Donna Watson and Sarah Gape who helped with the editorial process. Thanks are also due to academic colleagues at Cardiff

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