Rosemary Crompton Memorial Lecture 2017 - Class and Work in post-crisis Britain

Public Lecture to be held on 10 May 2017, 5.00-6.30pm
Oliver Thompson Lecture Theatre, City, University of London, EC1V OHB

Registration and details

This year's Rosemary Crompton Memorial Lecture dedicates itself to the topic of 'Class and Work in post-crisis Britain'. The lecture's theme, set a year ago, seems overly optimistic given current political and economic events. Many would argue, and indeed many scholars have uncovered, that we have not moved away from post-crisis times. In the UK conditions of employment for many have yet to recover from the recent recession, since 2007 real wages have fallen in the UK, while typically we would have expected wage growth outside of recessionary periods. There is also ample evidence of an impoverishment in working conditions, with rises in a multifarious range of atypical and insecure forms of employment. The ongoing challenges workers face in securing and maintaining economic security in employment inevitably bleed into family life, into work-life reconciliation strategies and have a differential impact by class position. These issues are touched upon by our speakers for this year's lecture.

  • Professor Tracey Warren will present her work which examines the impact of the 'Great Recession' (2008/2009) on class inequalities on the working-lives of women and men in Britain. In this work Professor Warren examines how rising material inequalities between households, impact upon work-life reconciliation. Professor Warren also engages with Crompton and Sanderson's (1990) critique of part-time work as 'a particularly exploitative form of women's employment'. Warren will explore the state of part-time employment in contemporary Britain almost three decades after Crompton and Sanderson's analysis, and asks if 'working part-time still a commonplace but problematic strategy that women in Britain employ to reconcile two roles? Moreover, how does class inform our analysis of gender and part-time jobs in post-crisis Britain?'

  • Professor Rosalind Gill will examine the casualization of employment and of the employment contract. Her talk will examine how: '..high status occupations have become subject to similar processes of 'precarization', rendering large sections of the middle class into a new 'precariat'. One field where this has been seen very clearly is in relation to the cultural and creative industries such as film, television, design, and new media. People working in these fields occupy ambiguous positions in relation to traditional understandings of class: they are highly educated and often with considerable cultural capital, yet they are also poorly paid, indeed often work for free in unpaid internships or to gain experience, and rarely have more than a few weeks security. In this talk I will draw on my own and others research to explore how cultural workers navigate these conditions of uncertainty, and also to open up questions about what this widespread precariousness means. Finally I will turn the lens upon Universities, where casualized labour is becoming the norm, with profound implications'.