Stephen Fineman is Professor Emeritus at the School of Management, University of Bath, UK. He has a long and distinguished reputation in the field of organizational behaviour, publishing specialized monographs, edited books and textbooks, all directly or indirectly concerned with the world of work.
Work: A Very Short Introductionby Stephen Fineman
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The image of a job captures our imagination from an early age, usually prompted by the question 'What do you want to be when you grow up?'. Work — paid, unpaid, voluntary, or obligatory — is woven into the fabric of all human societies. For many of us, it becomes part of our identity. For others it is a tedious necessity. Living is problematic without paid work, and for many it is catastrophic. Steve Fineman tells the fascinating story of work - how we strive for security, reward, and often, meaning. Looking at how we classify 'work'; the cultural and social factors that influence the way we work; the ethics of certain types of work; and the factors that will affect the future of work, from globalization to technology, this Very Short Introduction considers work as a concept and as a practical experience, drawing upon ideas from psychology, sociology, management, and social history. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.
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Work seems to be one of the most important aspects of most of our lives, and we spend many years preparing for it, doing it, and stressing over it. However, most of us don’t get to reflect on what is the nature of work in its own right, and it may be surprising to realize that the regimented work and work schedule that we take for granted today is quite an exceptional and recent historical development. This short introduction tries to put the notion of work in a broader historical and social context. The book covers several aspects of modern work environment, and shows how we’ve gotten to this point in the long history of work. It also covers some recent changes in the nature of work (telecommuting for instance), and it anticipates a few further developments in the upcoming years. Unfortunately, this book is written from a very academic standpoint, and most of it is not even presented from the “soft” social science perspective. It is mostly based on pseudo-humanistic analysis that is so prevalent in the modern academia. It relies too much on neo-Marxism and cultural Marxism for the analysis and interpretation. Most of it is implicit, but there are a few very explicit invocation of Marxist terms and rhetoric. Aside from being very ideologically skewed, this approach has a concomitant problem of not being very useful. It approaches work and the work environment from the perspective of an ever-increasing field of complaints grievances, and victimhoods. Essentially you are being exploited, abused, or alienated if you are looking for work, not looking for work, not being able to find work, working, being underworked, being overworked, being under qualified, being overqualified, working in the office, working form home, working full time, working part time, if you are a woman, if you are a minority, and if you are retired. The 99% of us are victims (something that is stated quite explicitly in the closing pages of the book), work sucks, and it’s only probably going to get worse. I couldn’t have thought of a more depressing book and message on work. I would discourage anyone from reading this book, lest your whole attitude to work becomes irrevocably gloom and desperate. It’s not a good read, and it’s not even all that scholarly. I would have expected much better form the Oxford University Press.