Publications

Delivering flexible working in practice: an agile approach

Summary In the UK, up to 4 million working adults have some form of flexi-time arrangement, and around 40% of working adults work from home at least once a week (ONS, 2023; Statista, 2022). The new Employment Relations (Flexible Working) Act aims to further improve workers’ access to flexible working, with cross-party commitments to also make the right to request flexibility a day-one employment right. However, to fully realise the economic and social benefits of both formal and informal flexible working, implementation will be key and employers need updated guidance. Our research identifies three key challenges for successful [...]

2023-11-07T17:49:55+00:0031 October 2023|

Marx, Keynes and the future of working time

This paper re-examines the different visions of the future of working time offered by Marx and Keynes. While Marx and Keynes differed radically on some fundamental matters, they agreed that society would benefit from reducing work time. The idea of society using technology to curtail work hours was a central aspect of their respective visions of a better future. The paper compares Marx’s and Keynes’s visions. It also considers the fate of their visions as well as their relevance for modern debates on the future of work. The conclusion is that a critical political economy can learn from the [...]

2023-11-13T10:44:05+00:0030 October 2023|

Understanding and reducing tensions between clinical and non-clinical staff in the NHS, in relation to agile working

To meet the people promise that ‘we work flexibly’, the NHS has been active in rolling out agile working arrangements to help staff change how, when and where they work, to fit in with individual circumstances and changing organisational needs. Agile working arrangements work best when they are customised at a team or individual level, but this can give rise to resentment amongst staff, especially if workers view some groups as benefitting from more advantageous agile ‘deals’. Since the more widespread application of agile working, following the Covid-19 lockdowns, the NHS has reported that tensions have been emerging between [...]

2024-04-04T10:18:51+01:0024 October 2023|

Technology and remuneration of working time: a study on paid and unpaid working time in platform work

In this article, we analyse platform-mediated work on the basis of the results of a qualitative study conducted in Argentina in the areas of delivery services and design. The guiding question of this research is how digital work processes change the relationship between paid and unpaid working times. To answer this question, we examine the remuneration system of two types of platforms, and we identify different forms of unpaid labour time in platform-mediated work. Two main conclusions arise from this analysis. On the one hand, we argue that platforms tend to legitimise some forms of unpaid labour time to [...]

2023-11-06T12:16:35+00:0022 October 2023|

What is the price of a skill? The value of complementarity

The global workforce is urged to constantly reskill, as technological change favours particular new skills while making others redundant. But which skills are a good investment for workers and firms? As skills are seldomly applied in isolation, we propose that complementarity strongly determines a skill's economic value. For 962 skills, we demonstrate that their value is determined by complementarity – that is, how many different skills, ideally of high value, a competency can be combined with. We show that the value of a skill is relative, as it depends on the skill background of the worker. For most skills, [...]

2023-11-21T13:29:07+00:0017 October 2023|

Leapfrog logistics: digital trucking platforms, infrastructure, and labor in Brazil and China

Critical political economy analyses have principally conceptualised platforms as unproductive economic forms (rentier capital) skimming value off each intermediated transaction and/or illegitimately extracting and capitalizing user data. This scholarship has also focused heavily on extractive dimensions of global North platforms’ operations within the global South. However, a small but growing literature is examining the productive aspects of digital platforms, while important digital platforms are emerging in Southern economies. These trends draw attention to the prospect of platforms playing a role in leapfrog development. This article examines digital trucking platforms in two major economies of the global South: Brazil and [...]

2023-10-25T11:02:01+01:0017 October 2023|

Risks and Benefits of Digital Tools for Social Protection Delivery from a Gender Perspective

The purported cost-saving and efficiency benefits of automating and digitising social protection systems are hard for governments to ignore at a time of multiple, overlapping climate and financial crises, and shrinking budgets for social protection. Digitised systems can reduce transaction costs, enable real-time analysis, and deliver affordances of scale and efficiency for humanitarian actors and governments. Digital payments also can mitigate some of the risks involved in the delivery of cash and voucher assistance (CVA), such as the dangers involved in transporting money and in conflict settings, and can be popular with recipients due to the privacy they afford [...]

2024-02-13T13:18:51+00:0013 October 2023|

Cultural barriers to patient empowerment: Insights from the PatientsEngage digital health platform in India

Digital health platforms enable members of the public to access health information, monitor their conditions, and even receive online consultations or treatment. They also allow patients and carers to interact, sharing experiences that could otherwise be difficult to discuss. This is particularly important for patients with rare medical conditions, who might be phycally dispersed or psychologically isolated. Existing research has explored the role of digital health platforms in empowering patients in Western countries (Petrakaki et al, 2018). However, there is limited research about how such platforms interact with national cultures, and the implications for our understanding of patient empowerment [...]

2023-10-24T12:47:02+01:004 October 2023|

Mutualism, class composition, and the reshaping of worker organisation in platform work and the gig economy

This article contributes an understanding of mutualism as a foundational element in emergent worker collectivism. We challenge mainstream institutionalist accounts in industrial relations, especially from the Global North, that downplay processes of bottom-up regeneration of working-class organisation. We discuss compositional accounts of class formation and examine previous understandings of mutualism, then apply our conceptual framework to evidence from international literature and our own research on platform work in Italy and the UK. Three important themes emerge in understanding worker self-organisation: the demographics of the workforce, including migration backgrounds and social ties beyond the workplace; the existence of social relations [...]

2024-03-20T15:40:59+00:0030 September 2023|

From coworking to competing? Business models and strategies of UK coworking spaces beyond the COVID-19 pandemic

This paper examines the growth of the UK coworking space (CWS) sector in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, drawing on data from a multi-year study comprising 44 interviews with CWS owners, managers, and other key economic actors. The paper offers a novel contribution by drawing on critical political economy to conceptualise CWS as capitalist enterprises providing fixed capital of an independent kind in competitive markets increasingly shaped by changing urban commercial real estate dynamics which necessitate that CWS adapt their business models to remain economically viable. The paper finds the entry of large corporate actors in the CWS [...]

2023-09-14T15:29:15+01:0029 August 2023|
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