Labour Studies Index

Updated: 2021-01-05

Framing Globalization and Work: A Research Agenda

Document type Article
Author Murray, Gregor
Journal Journal of Industrial Relations
Volume 52
Date 2010 01 02
ISSN 0022-1856, 1472-9296
Pages 11-25


Drawing on vignettes of the contested nature of change at work in a context of globalization, this article presents four contending narratives of this relationship. It argues that such frames open up or close down the possibility for actors to envisage the evolution of work and employment. The first two (overdetermined convergence and the crisis of capitalism) limit our understanding of important features of the processes underway. A third (balancing the economic and the social) opens up more space for varied outcomes and social choices, but is faulted for its problematical assumptions about social engineering and institutional trade-offs. A fourth frame focused on actor capacity and power offers the most interesting analytical avenues for the development of research. Four consequences are envisaged for the development of a research agenda: first, a focus on four types of fault line of deep societal change (internationalization of economic relations, the reorganization of production, the gender contract and decent, socially useful and healthy work) and the intersections of these fault lines; second, identifying and tracking the articulations and hierarchies between sources and sites of social regulation; third, studying the decline and revitalization of existing actors and the emergence of new actors and their capacities and power; finally, making research on work and employment matter through values, a proximity to social actors and a normative dialogue with change.