The rise of global work
- Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Globalisation represents a set of transformations in the contemporary world that are having profound impacts on the nature of labour markets and work. However, most social scientific analysis in this area has focused on changes to labour markets as emerging consequences of the developing global economy. This paper argues that an analysis of what is happening to work itself as a consequence of globalisation has been neglected. It further contends that the nature of work as a practice in the contemporary world can be better understood through a new conceptual framework, centred on the concept of ‘global work’. It goes on to lay out a theoretical framework for conceptualising the emergence of ‘global work’, based around an analysis of the increasingly distanciated social relations that constitute what work ‘is’ in today's world. In this respect it contends that working practices, the experience of work, the nature of workplaces and the power relations in which people's working lives are entangled require a theoretical understanding of global-scale interrelationships if they are to be properly understood. This ‘global work thesis’ is grounded in research into two contrasting forms of work in the contemporary world: transnational legal services in developed post-industrial economies and overseas voluntary work in developing countries.