Historical Studies in Industrial Relations

Crisis at Work: Gender, Class, and the Dehumanization of Jobs

Historical Studies in Industrial Relations (2020), 41, (1), 109–136.

Abstract

Drawing on Huw Beynon’s paper in HSIR 40 (2019), this article surveys the position of women in the UK labour market over the last fifty years. It suggests that many of the developments Beynon describes are relevant to women’s employment, but with the added twist that women’s position in the labour market and society is structured by their responsibility within the total social organization of labour for reproductive labour. Despite increased women’s employment, gender segregation, both horizontal and vertical, is obstinately persistent, especially in working-class occupations. Two of these occupations, care work and retail, are used to illustrate how increasing precarity of jobs combined with technologies of control have brought about a dehumanization of work. It is concluded that the restructuring of global capitalism on neoliberal principles has negatively affected opportunities for women workers.

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Author details

Bradley, Harriet