Mapping Good Work: The Quality of Working Life Across the Occupational Structure

A seminar by Dr Mark Williams (Queen Mary University of London)


It is now widely accepted that strategies for ‘Good Work’ involve more than eliminating low-paid and precarious work: Work should also offer realistic scope for development and fulfilment. Key to this is to develop a metric that can identify the extent to which different kinds of work can be fulfilling for the average worker. This talk introduces interim findings from a live ESRC project and forthcoming book on developing new ways of conceptualising, presenting, and identifying disparities in the quality of work, focusing on the occupational dimension. To do this, this talk introduces the Good Work Index. Using this new metric, we map the structure of occupational quality in Britain and its evolution. Overall, our findings present a mixed picture. In contrast to narrow pay-centred narratives of a polarising occupational structure, we find the occupational quality structure is generally upgrading. However, work is also becoming more routine, more controlled, and more intense across the entire occupational quality spectrum. This talk discusses the implications of these findings as well as other findings from the project such as the extent to which mobility up the occupational quality hierarchy can actually improve the quality of working life.

Speaker’s bio

Mark is a Reader in Human Resource Management in the Department of People and Organisations and the Centre for Research in Equality and Diversity (CRED) in the School of Business and Management, Queen Mary University of London. He specialises in mapping socio-economic disparities in the quality of working life using large-scale survey and administrative data.