A socio-historical account of work: change, continuity and the consequences

Michael Calnan, Tom Douglass

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores key sociological questions about what work looks like in the twenty-first century in Britain and argues that while changes in the form, experience, and understanding of work might in some ways be significant, they are in the main, partial and piecemeal. We begin with a brief review of the consequences of industrialization and the organization of work in industrial societies. Following this, the chapter devotes particular attention to developments from the 1970s onwards, exploring the end of the ‘golden age’ of work and factors shaping the face of work in the final decades of the twentieth century. The chapter then discusses the contemporary nature of employment in the twenty-first century, exploring, for example, the rise of the precariat, the impacts of complex technologies and automation, home working, and longer working lives. Finally, the implications of changes in the nature of work for disease, illness, and health are addressed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWork and Pain: A lifespan development approach
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press (OUP)
ISBN (Print) 9780198828273
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - Dec 2019


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