Authored Book

The politics of working life and meaningful waged work



Laaser K & Karlsson J (2023) The politics of working life and meaningful waged work. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Can waged work under capitalism be meaningful? How does this meaningfulness express itself in the politics of working life? More fundamentally, how should work be socially and economically valued, rewarded, organised and regulated to become more meaningful? Knut Laaser and Jan Ch. Karlsson address these questions and provide a novel theory of meaningful work that is deeply ingrained in Critical Social Science approaches. The authors conceptualise meaningful work as a continuum between meaningful–meaningless work that rests on objective and subjective dimensions of autonomy, dignity and recognition, all pushed and pulled by the multi-layered control and power dynamics of waged work. They challenge the tendency to promote unpolitical concepts in the scholarship of meaningful work. The explanatory power of the meaningful work framework is illustrated by the analysis of empirical case studies on Norwegian industry operators, British bank employees, Indian security guards, German university academics and Swedish cabin crew members.

Publication date31/12/2023
Publication date online30/11/2023
PublisherCambridge University Press
Place of publicationCambridge

People (1)


Dr Knut Laaser

Dr Knut Laaser

Lecturer, Management, Work and Organisation

Research themes