The Future of Work and Employment
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The Future of Work and Employment

Edited by Adrian Wilkinson and Michael Barry

This cutting-edge book charts the latest ideas and concepts in employment relations research. Mapping out the intellectual boundaries of the field, The Future of Work and Employment outlines the key research and policy outcomes for work and employment in the age of digitisation and artificial intelligence.
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Chapter 5: Contemporary challenges in meaningful work

Catherine Bailey and Adrian Madden

Abstract

Research has shown that meaningful work is important to individuals, organisations and society. However, there is a risk that contemporary challenges in the world of work such as globalisation, digitisation, increasing precarity and new business models that upturn the employment relationship may render work meaningless to individuals. Through tracing the history of meaningful work in the philosophy, ethics, sociology, psychology and management studies literatures, we find that meaningfulness has been interpreted in widely differing ways. Generally, though, the evidence base suggests that meaningfulness is associated with a range of positive outcomes, but there is also the risk that the pursuit of meaningfulness may draw people into working practices that are harmful to their wellbeing. Gaps within our understanding of the nature and experience of meaningfulness suggest that this is an area with rich opportunities for further research endeavours that connect meaningfulness with new forms of employment.

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