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Poverty and insecurityLife in low-pay, no-pay Britain$
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Tracy Shildrick, Robert MacDonald, and Colin Webster

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9781847429117

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: May 2013

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847429117.001.0001

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Poor work: insecurity and churning in deindustrialised labour markets

Poor work: insecurity and churning in deindustrialised labour markets

(p.124) (p.125) 7 Poor work: insecurity and churning in deindustrialised labour markets
Poverty and insecurity

Tracy Shildrick

Robert MacDonald

Colin Webster

Kayleigh Garthwaite

Policy Press

The chapter focuses on people's recurrent experiences of getting, doing, losing and leaving jobs. It shows how much of the work now available is typically low-skilled, low paid and insecure yet usually demand uncommonly high levels of personal commitment. These jobs were found to be typically physically and mentally demanding yet poorly valued in terms of remuneration and status. For a few interviewees better quality employment meant they escaped the poverty and churning of the low-pay, no-pay cycle. It is employment opportunities – the demand side of the labour market - which are most significant in shaping the low-pay, no-pay cycle and patterns of recurrent poverty. Intriguingly, although able to - sometimes graphically - describe the pain and unpleasantness of poor work, interviewees would simultaneously proclaim how they ‘loved’ working. This conundrum is explained by reference to the intrinsic social, psychological, moral and class cultural value of work to interviewees. The chapter also scrutinises how and why workers left jobs, which was often related to the pressures of work on personal health or because of wider crises in people's lives. Predominantly, the inherent insecurity of jobs, with employers who were as quick to fire as they were to hire, meant that jobs were lost.

Keywords:   Poor work, The social psychology of employment, Demand-side opportunities, Deindustrialisation

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