Searching for security: Case studies of the impact of work restructuring on households in South Korea, South Africa and Australia
Journal of Industrial Relations
Business School, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, 6009, Australia; University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa
The reconfiguration of the employment relationship - through the growing intensification, informalization and casualization of work, downsizing and retrenchments - impacts directly on workers' households and the communities within which they are embedded. To understand these responses, we need to rethink the way we study the changing employment relationship. Employment relations should not only analyse the workplace: we need to research workers in the totality of their lives. To comprehend these processes we surveyed and interviewed workers in the workplace and in their households and communities. Through following workers into their homes and communities in South Africa, Australia and South Korea, the differential impact of the global restructuring of one industry, the white goods industry, on the non-working life of working people emerged. Two types of responses were identified: on the one hand, a retreat from, or an adaptation to, rapid market liberalization; on the other, mobilization to challenge the market. All three research sites evidenced innovative attempts at the local level to search for security. However, these responses lacked an overall vision of alternative possibilities to the realities of the free market paradigm of globalization. © Industrial Relations Society of Australia.