Junior Tutorial: The Future of Work




The 21st century has brought dramatic changes to the world of work. The traditional, full-time employment relationship is in decline. New ways of organizing work are on the rise, with more people working as independent contractors or using gigs to get by. Technology is changing the nature of jobs, as workers can collaborate remotely and delegate complex tasks to computers. And employers face growing demand for diversity, inclusion, and accountability when it comes to discrimination and harassment. In the midst of the major transitions already taking place, Covid-19 has forced organizations-from corporations to schools to healthcare providers-to radically rethink when, where, and how work is performed. These changes bring new challenges, both for individual workers and for social policy. How does a single mother manage childcare when an algorithm assigns her to shifts that change weekly? How do gig workers juggle multiple jobs across digital platforms to make ends meet? How can we provide benefits to people who work 40 hours a week but do not have a regular employer? How can employers control their workers from a distance-and should they? The tutorial will guide students in the development of an empirical research paper on a topic of their choosing that addresses the changing world of work. Topics may include gender and race in the workplace, automation and the machine-human interface, experiences of empowerment or precarity in gig work, new labor movements, and policy responses such as universal basic income. Through in-class workshops, we will develop research questions and formulate practical research designs. We will explore qualitative research methods, including interviews and observation, and learn to conduct online survey experiments. Throughout, we will refine our understanding of the world of work and how workers, employers, social movements, and policymakers are responding to new challenges.


Additional Information

Faculty: Hilary Holbrow
Semester: Full Fall Term
Time: Tues, TBA