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Understanding Social Change$
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Anthony F. Heath, John Ermisch, and Duncan Gallie

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780197263143

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197263143.001.0001

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The Puzzle of Work: Insecurity and Stress and Autonomy and Commitment

The Puzzle of Work: Insecurity and Stress and Autonomy and Commitment

Chapter:
(p.92) (p.93) 5. The Puzzle of Work: Insecurity and Stress and Autonomy and Commitment
Source:
Understanding Social Change
Author(s):

Edwards Paul

Publisher:
British Academy
DOI:10.5871/bacad/9780197263143.003.0005

This chapter suggests that the nature of work in Britain changed dramatically during the last thirty years of the twentieth century. Sectoral shifts included a move from manufacturing towards services. There were also major shifts from the public sector to the private sector: between 1980 and 1998 the proportion of employees accounted for by private sector services rose from 26% to 44%. Part-time and temporary workers also became more common. These changes are often claimed to be associated with some more general transformations in the nature of work in Britain. One view holds that there have been improving levels of skills and training and better communication in the workplace. Another view holds that there have been increased levels of effort and stress. This chapter attempts to explain why rising skill levels, employee autonomy and commitment have been accompanied by widespread reports of increases in stress, lengthening working hours and a sense of a lack of control over one's working life.

Keywords:   work, sectoral shifts, workplace, stress, skill levels, employee autonomy, commitment

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