Victims of greed

Work and Society
March 1, 2002

In introducing issues of globalisation and future change, Keith Grint points out that the world's richest 225 people have a combined wealth equal to the annual income of 47 per cent of the entire global population. "As ever, there remains a huge amount of work for us all to do," he writes, although it is not quite clear what kind of work we are being encouraged towards. Grint's collection, which is divided into five parts, is about "the tough current world of work in all its shame and glory".

The first part, "Beyond the conventions of work", a paper from the International Labour Review about child labour, illustrates something of the shame to which he refers. He quotes an estimate from the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) that 80 million children aged between ten and 14 undertook work so long and onerous that it interfered with their normal development.

In part two, "Outside the factory gate", Sue Newell's well-known piece on "The superwoman syndrome" provides a useful overview of the gendered division of domestic labour and its links to equal opportunities at work. Peter du Gay and Graeme Salaman show how the discourse of enterprise has spread from business to colonise all social life, shaping the normal way we relate to others in or out of work.

Part three, "Constraints and consensus at work", includes a paper on the Cadbury firm's culture, Stanley Deetz's paper on a Foucauldian analysis of disciplinary power in the corporation, and a piece by David Collinson on strategies of resistance.

In part four, "the book moves from scepticism about the prevalence of consensus to scepticism about the predominance of class" and includes pieces on race and ethnicity by Tariq Modood and on gender by Judy Wajcman. The final section is about the future of work, featuring pieces on "globalisation" and "change".

There seems to me to be more of shame and less of glory in this book but I am sure that the managers whom Grint teaches at Oxford's Said Business School will have their eyes opened and perhaps their consciousness raised.

Ray Pahl is a visiting professor, University of Essex.

Work and Society: A Reader. First edition

Editor - Keith Grint
ISBN - 0 7456 2222 4 and 2223 2
Publisher - Polity
Price - £55.00 and £15.99
Pages - 348

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