apparently positive experiences of many private-sector managers or new global consultants and image-makers (Wajcman and Martin 2001; Wood and Connell 2002) and the much more negative ones of, say, women in routine service-sector work?
The current literature is almost devoid of research focused on aspects of how people's experiences of work and the labour market unfold over time. Virtually all research on such issues relies on the recall of experience by members of cross-sectional samples. Longitudinal research on aspects of work and the labour market may offer important new insights into the new world of work, including essential elements in understanding the factors affecting variations in people's experiences.While studies like the recently begun Household, Income and Labour Dynamics Australia (HILDA) study may offer some possibilities here (Wooden and Watson 2001), data generated through an explicit focus on issues arising from the existing sociological literature on work and employment is likely to be essential. Greater coordination and cooperation between sociologically influenced researchers in the field may pay major dividends. At present, research is often disparate, arising from varying concerns, and researchers only comprehend their mutual interests in retrospect. Larger, more coordinated research efforts may also counteract the worsening institutional position of sociologists of work, and allied researchers, who often face a university environment largely unsympathetic to the fundamental, but hardly shiny and new, issues with which they are concerned.
At the same time, the growing body of research on various aspects of the embodiment of the social experience of work needs to be integrated into research on the changing world of work.This process has been started in the literature on some aspects of women's employment, such as the relation between work and family. However, some more overarching integration may be possible using contemporary theoretical approaches. For example, much recent workplace change may be susceptible to analysis in terms of a newly revivified and powerful social process of 'individualisation' (Beck and Beck-Gernsheim 2001).Yet there have been only limited attempts to understand how such a process develops alongside the strikingly persistent aspects of the embodiment of social experience that are revealed by feminist perspectives and those focused on other aspects of embodiment. Understanding the complex intertwining of such dynamic forces as individualisation with those most resistant to change, such as some aspects of embodiment, is a challenging issue for the sociology of work and employment in Australia. Here, too, the benefits of longitudinal research and research on the 'winners' in the new world of work would undoubtedly pay dividends. Nevertheless, some sense of fragmentation is likely to remain in the field, if only because researchers will uncover new and unanticipated aspects of the rapidly changing experience of work.