Collection Introduction: The 'New Normal' of Working Lives

Taylor, Stephanie and Luckman, Susan (2018). Collection Introduction: The 'New Normal' of Working Lives. In: Taylor, Stephanie and Luckman, Susan eds. The New Normal of Working Lives: Critical Studies in Contemporary Work and Employment. Dynamics of Virtual Work. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 1–15.



Lauren Berlant (2011) has written of the need to understand the problem of living contemporary lives, including the 'new normal' and 'new ordinary' (p.261). This collection investigates the new normal of work and employment through international, interdisciplinary research into contemporary worker experience. The introductory chapter sets out the themes of the collection and introduces individual chapters. It argues that the most significant feature to emerge in the studies is the affective weighting attached to personalised and increasingly individualised work, and the shift this provides around how people want to work and organise their lives. Within different employment arrangements, this ambition promotes the intensification of labour and therefore becomes an 'obstacle to flourishing' (p.1) and an example of the 'cruel optimism' discussed by Berlant.

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