New sociological insights reveal changes to work and unemployment
New sociological insights into work and unemployment show employment activation schemes are contributing to the current loosening of links between work and remuneration, says Professor Lisa Adkins, University of Newcastle Professor of Sociology and Academy of Finland Distinguished Professor.
At the recent WORK2015 international conference held at the University of Turku, Finland, Professor Adkins delivered a keynote address to more than 500 delegates attending the interdisciplinary conference dedicated to exploring the changing meaning of work in the 21st century.
Drawing on her ongoing Australian Research Council and Academy of Finland funded research, Professor Adkins discussed unemployment and argued that the state of joblessness is central to understanding contemporary work and working futures.
"Sociologists have focused considerable attention in recent years on the question of precarious employment, but they have largely neglected the topic of how unemployment is changing and what it can tell us about how work too is changing," Professor Adkins noted. "For example, employment activation schemes where the unemployed are required to perform extensive work-like activities in return for minimal payment contribute to the current loosening of links between work and remuneration."
Professor Lisa Adkins with conference convenor, Professor Anne Kovalainen of the University of Turku Centre for Labour Studies
Professor Adkins' mentee, Dr Kori Allan – a post-doctoral researcher supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council, Canada – also presented at the conference on her research into the growing phenomena of interning and internships, that is, of working for free in the Canadian context.
Dr Allan argued that internships are indicative of a general restructuring of labour where unpaid and volunteer work are now all but mandated, stating that, "This reveals how precarity has spread to the middle classes."
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