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Department of Politics and Society

Keynote speakers

Confirmed keynote speakers:

Jon Erik Dølvik

FAFO (Norway)

The Future of Work - Opportunities and Challenges for the Nordic Models

Digitalization and other megatrends such as global heating, demographic change, and globalization are in the coming years expected to transform working life, deepen social cleavages, eradicate jobs, and challenge the wage earner relationship on which the Nordic labour and welfare models are built. Reporting from an ongoing study funded by the Nordic Council of Ministers, gathering more than 25 researchers from all the Nordic countries (see https://www.fafo.no/index.php/project-home), Jon Erik Dølvik, Fafo, will present an overview of the main analytical perspectives, thematic studies, and some of the evidence that form basis for the project's synthesis report fall 2019.

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Cathie jo Martin 

Boston University

Same as it ever was? The Cultural Constraint on the Nordic Working Life Model

Industrial relations systems are under pressure in the post-industrial world and scholars disagree over the future of coordinated capitalism. Both optimistic and pessimistic views miss an important fact: very different types of economies have high levels of coordination in their industrial relations systems. Thus, we must understand both why coordination develops under such diverse economic conditions, and why it persists (or is reinvented) at successive critical junctures. Cathie Jo Martin suggest that cultural conceptions of labor, coordination, skills and the state shaped the evolution of corporatist and pluralist forms of industrial relations. Applying computational text analyses to large corpora of literature in Britain, Denmark and Sweden, she demonstrate the similarities in cultural memes among coordinated countries and their differences with liberal countries dating back to 1700. Writers of fiction become involved in political struggles and their stories influence the preferences of other political actors. Most importantly, these writers act as purveyors of symbols and narratives that they inherit from past cultural works. Cultural touchstones - the cultural constraint - influences the framing of social problems, the construction of social class, and the processes of institutional renewal. This research has implications for the future of the Nordic model. Coordinated industrial relations were historically grounded in a commitment to social investment and a belief that all must contribute to the collective economy and society. Yet neoliberalism is eroding the Nordic formula for growth and social solidarity, and right-wing populism is capitalizing on the forgotten truths of the Nordic model.

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Bridget Anderson

University of Bristol

And about time too….: Youth, Precarity and Mobilities

The COVID-19 global pandemic saw many migrants designated ‘key workers’. Notably many of these essential jobs including in agriculture and care provision, are not only low waged but associated with precarious working – insecure, temporary, unreliable shift patterns. Precarity too highlights the relevance of time to people’s experiences of working life, and to their access to rights. In this presentation I want to explore the relationship between what seem to be highly inflexible and bureaucratically cumbersome immigration regimes and migrants’ role as flexible workers through a focus on time. I will start by emphasizing the importance of time to the study of migration and to the study of migration and work and distinguish between what I call Passing Time and Bureaucratic Time. I will then consider how immigration controls and enforcement mediate between Passing Times and Bureaucratic Times, including through entry requirements and conditions that capture people at certain stages of the life-cycle. I will argue that a temporal lens and engagement with qualifying periods for employment and for citizenship rights can expose commonalities between migrants and citizens and that Pandemic Times make such an approach more urgent and more possible.

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Helge Hvid

Roskilde University

Responsible autonomy and Nordic employment relations. Corona and democracy at work

In the Nordic countries, we have for decades had a productive tension between the ideals of responsible autonomy in working life on the one hand and the Nordic institutionalization of conflicts of interests on the other. This productive tension is however challenged in the current development of management and employment relations. Responsible autonomy develops into individualized self-management and labour relations are taken over by experts. The keynote builds on the recently published book “Work and wellbeing in the Nordic Countries – Critical Perspectives on the World’s Best Working Lives”, edited by Helge Hvid and Eivind Falkum. Workplace democracy has been subject to gradual erosion for decades. However, the corona crisis has shown that changes in the organization of work and organizational changes can be implemented quickly and efficiently with a high degree of employee participation. Democratizing work as an issue seems to be re-actualized.

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