Unlimited Free Access to Unscripted Voices of 21st Century Workers “On the Front Line”

gears-94220_640[We’re pleased to welcome Paul Brook, one of the editors of Work, employment, society. All 10 articles in the On the Front Line (OTFL) collection are being made permanently free as part of Work, employment and society’s wider commitment to public sociology.]

These powerful testimonies of employees’ accounts of their working lives form a series of vivid, ‘behind the scenes’, portraits of the contemporary world of work. Each story is told frankly and all brim with a rich mixture of hope, despair, enjoyment and anger, revealing the hidden, often harsh, realities of work in the 21st century.

These popular and compelling stories are being increasingly used for university teaching but can now be taken-up by schools, colleges and others keen to get ‘under the skin’ of today’s world of work and employment. In doing so, we hope to introduce individuals and groups outside of the academy, especially young people, to the richness of what C. Wright Mills called the “sociological imagination”.

F1.mediumThe OTFL collection includes accounts of the indignities of working as a cleaner in a luxury hotel; an activist’s story during a protracted factory strike; the dangerous health consequences for a slimming club consultant striving to ‘look the part’; the unremitting time demands on a supermarket manager; the endemic abuse and violence suffered by a trainee haute cuisine chef in Michelin starred kitchens; and the personal struggles of a pioneer woman priest.

OTFL also offers first-hand accounts of major political-industrial events, such as working inside HBOS bank during the 2008 financial crisis; a pit supervisor’s experience of Britain’s miners’ strike of 1984-85; organising inside the factory occupation movement as part of the Argentinian anti-IMF uprising of 2001-02; and the disturbing account of work under hazardous conditions in a Scottish plastics factory shortly before a devastating explosion that killed nine workers in 2004.

Unlike standard research articles, OTFL contributions are co-authored by the worker and an academic/s. Each one is preceded by a brief scene-setting commentary written by the academic. If you would like to write an OTFL article, the Work, employment and society website has guidance. You can also contact us to discuss your ideas further.

Making OTFL free access is part of Work, employment and society’s wider commitment to public sociology. We want to encourage more scholars to work with workers and employees, especially the less powerful, to help give voice to their hidden experiences and unheard views. We also want to make our small contribution to ensuring that workers’ experiences, views and ideas will not be consigned to the “enormous condescension of posterity”, as E.P. Thompson famously claimed was the fate of earlier generations of workers.

Making Space For Flexibility in the Workplace

Sara Värlander, Stockholm University School of Business, published Individual Flexibility in the Workplace: A Spatial Perspective on May 13, 2011 in The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science. To view other OnlineFirst articles, please click here.

The abstract:

During the past few decades, scholars have undertaken numerous studies to map various determinants of flexibility at various levels: organizational, group, and individual. However, limited attention has been paid to the role of context and spatiality in realizing individual flexibility. This article aims to fill this gap and seeks to inquire into links between flexibility and spatiality. More specifically, this article will explore how organizational spatial layouts affect individual flexibility as everyday work activities are undertaken in the production of services in two settings, namely, health care and financial services. The findings show that spatial layout is important to better understand and conceptualize individual and organizational flexibility. The findings also show how spatial layout affords various and unexpected outcomes and that layouts that unilaterally foster flexibility are difficult to achieve due to the polymorphous nature of flexibility.

To learn more about The Journal of Applied Behavioral Science, please follow this link.

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