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Beyond work intensification – the contradictions and ironies of the changing nature of ‘unskilled’ work in a context of austerity and organisational change.

McBride, J. (2019) 'Beyond work intensification – the contradictions and ironies of the changing nature of ‘unskilled’ work in a context of austerity and organisational change.', Capital and class. .

Abstract

This paper argues, through a study of cleaning workers, a need to reconsider the changing nature of unskilled work. In particular, how it has, ironically, become more complex and challenging in some cases due to economic and political developments. For example, in relation to questions of dirty work, stigma and issues of dignity, aspects of this literature recognises the difficulty of the work and its ‘distribution’. However, we argue a need to draw further attention to the ‘mechanics’, processes and complexities of this work and the way it is subject to significant contextual changes (e.g. the role of austerity) that create new complexities and challenges just as that work is being undermined and intensified. We use the voices of cleaning workers to reflect, in a rich detailed manner, the changes to their working environment and focus on the broader social perceptions of the work – from the public, employers and the workers themselves. Our analysis demonstrates a clear recognition of the complexity of that work through four dimensions - the changing spatial isolation of work; the growing context of violence due to the changing operational features of the job; the ongoing impact of state led austerity policies and limited resources, and the ongoing role of social stigma. We end the paper discussing how workers’ control emerges as an important issue in a curious manner within this changing context.

Item Type:Article
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
First Live Deposit - 04 November 2019
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Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:https://journals.sagepub.com/home/cnc
Record Created:04 Nov 2019 11:13
Last Modified:04 Nov 2019 11:26

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