The Handbook of Diverse Economies
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The Handbook of Diverse Economies

Edited by J. K. Gibson-Graham and Kelly Dombroski

Economic diversity abounds in a more-than-capitalist world, from worker-recuperated cooperatives and anti-mafia social enterprises to caring labour and the work of Earth Others, from fair trade and social procurement to community land trusts, free universities and Islamic finance. The Handbook of Diverse Economies presents research that inventories economic difference as a prelude to building ethical ways of living on our dangerously degraded planet. With contributing authors from twenty countries, it presents new thinking around subjectivity and methodology as strategies for making other worlds possible.
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Chapter 14: The persistence of informal and unpaid labour: evidence from UK households

Colin C. Williams and Richard J. White


The aim of this chapter is to reveal the persistence of informal and unpaid labour in contemporary societies and how market-oriented formal labour is far from hegemonic. To achieve this, a ‘total social organization of labour’ approach is used. This recognizes a multiplicity of work practices existing on a spectrum from formal to informal oriented practices crosscut by another spectrum from wholly paid to wholly unpaid practices. This conceptual lens is then employed to explore the labour-types used in different localities within the UK, drawing on key findings from the UK Household Work Practice Survey. The analysis reveals the prevalence of multifarious work practices and how formal market-oriented labour is not always the first choice for householders. These findings challenge the mistaken view of formal paid labour as dominant and always the preferred option of citizens, and point to the feasibility of, and preference for, alternative futures of work beyond market-oriented formal labour.

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