The future of work, just as the future of our economic systems in their entirety, stands under the imperative of sustainability. But “sustainable work” has, so far, not received much attention in research on work (e.g. in sociology or organizational studies). Moreover, it is not clear what “sustainability” with regard to work means. At least two axes can be distinguished: a social axis, which focus on the sustainability of certain concrete jobs for the individuals who hold them, and an ecological axis that asks about the relations to broader biological and environmental systems, e.g. with regard to the preservation of biodiversity and the reduction of CO2 emissions. But how do these hang together? While the problem has sometimes been framed as one of contrast (”jobs vs. climate”), and while certain political-economic constellations do in fact present such a dilemma, e.g. when it comes to jobs in coal mining, it seems clear that a sustainable future of work needs to find ways of combining these axes. At the same time, thinking about “work” in the context of the environmental crisis raises bigger issues about the place of human production and reproduction in wider ecosystems. It invites considerations not only of paid work in a traditional sense, but also of the many forms of unpaid work (family work, other care work, volunteering, political work, etc.) through which human beings interact with each other and with their material surroundings. Moreover, questions about the “digital transformation” of work need to be seen in a different light if the environmental impact (e.g. energy consumption, changed commuting patterns, etc.) is taken into account. Thus, thinking about “sustainable work” in a holistic way might require rather massive shifts in our understanding of “work” as such. This, in turn, raises questions about how work could and should be organized to be “sustainable”: can this happen within the traditional frameworks of capitalist, profit-oriented firms, or does it require fundamentally different governance structures, e.g. democratic firms?
The workshop brings together scholars from various disciplines (sociology, philosophy, management studies, organization studies, economics, environmental studies, etc.) to reflect on these questions about a sustainable future of work. The aim is to put together a number of contributions that can serve as a reference point for this category of work with the aim to elaborate them further into articles for a journal’s special issue.
ACTé Laboratory, Université Clermont Auvergne, France
University of Liverpool
Centre Georg Simmel, EHESS, Paris
University of Groningen
Federal University of Ouro Preto, Brazil
Centre d'études des mouvements sociaux, CNRS/EHESS, Paris
Queen Mary University of London / QMUL Centre for Climate Crime and Climate Justice
Carleton University, Canada