The Future of Work

Module code: MN1013

We are living through a revolution in the world of work.  The main forces of change, such as automation and globalisation, have been building for several years and appear to have accelerated after the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are now confronted with a variety of prediction - from Government consultancies, think tanks and the business press - as to the future state of work and workplaces; robots combined with artificial intelligence will free us from mundane and dangerous work; we'll enjoy a four-day working week; equality, diversity and staff wellbeing will all flourish now that Chief Wellness Officers have entered the C-Suite; good jobs will abound under the Green New Deal; we'll dial into work from global locations as remote working becomes firmly normalised.

With the constant flow of predictions and pronouncements, we rarely pause to consider the evidence for these visions of the future.  Are they equally likely to come to fruition, are they all even compatible or maybe there will be tensions between them?  Are the risks and benefits equally spread across industries and demographic groups?

This module will help you make sense of the future of work.  In the lectures and seminars, we will examine how the nature of work, its meaning and definition has changed over time.  We will engage in interesting discussions about what work looked like during and after the industrial revolution; which major social theories help us understand work; how automation is impacting work within a range of industries; developments in equality and diversity; the rise of the gig economy and more.  Complementing the lectures, the seminar series will provide students with an opportunity to explore and debate the evidence for (and against) the various visions of the future of work which you will find useful in completing the assessment tasks for this module.

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