Nature of Work (Byte Size)
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Nature of Work (Byte Size)

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In this course, you are introduced in detail to the concept of work, with our main focus upon paid work within the employment relationship.

In Section 1, we look at the meaning of work, both historically, when we revisit the ideas of Weber and Marx, and within contemporary British society. We then go on to look at how jobs and occupations are categorised, the characteristics of the labour market and the role of women workers within it.

In Section 2, we deal with how jobs and occupations are arranged and structured within British society, both vertically, or hierarchically, and horizontally. We also look at how people can progress in their jobs and careers, and why some people move downwards. We also examine the labour market and its characteristics, particularly in relation to part-time workers and women workers.

In Section 3, we examine the meanings given to work by workers themselves, and the concept of "work orientations" is introduced. This is followed, in Section 4, by an analysis of the emerging "information economy" and the impact of new technologies upon work and organisations.

Finally, we deal with trends and prospects concerning unemployment, the service sector of the economy, working time and work outside employment.

By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • define work and differentiate between intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
  • indicate how the meaning of work and human attitudes towards it are affected by cultural and social factors and give some historical examples.
  • explain how Weber's protestant work ethic and Marx's concept of alienation are relevant to modern attitudes to work and have meaning for the individual.
  • describe in basic terms some models used to describe the structure of work and list the groups or categories identified in the hierarchical occupational model.
  • explain through examples the concept of occupational mobility and some of the factors that may affect this.
  • examine two significant features of the labour market, the dual labour market and the sexual division of labour, and discuss the reasons put forward to explain them.
  • list some broad occupational groups into which work has been dividedand give examples of how the market power and status of occupational groups may change as society changes.
  • define the concept of "work orientation" and critically discuss some important studies of it.
  • illustrate how work orientation is a dynamic rather than a static quality and identify some of the influences inside and outside work that may determine how people give meaning to their work.
  • describe some current changes in UK work and job patterns and in the economy, and identify social and economic factors influencing their development.
  • describe a range of developments in information technology and explain their importance in relation to global competitive and economic developments.
  • discuss the impact of new technologies on work, particularly in relation to flexibility, work design, and organisational structure and employment patterns.
  • identify some of the changing patterns of work, employment and unemployment and discuss in an informed way possible future trends.