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The Faculty of Social Sciences

Thematic sessions

The scientific committee welcomes proposals for thematic sessions to the 2020 Nordic Working Life Conference. The theme of the conference is the changing nature of Nordic working life, labour markets, industrial relations and employment relationships. Around the world, Nordic labour markets are acclaimed for strong economic performance, social security, high equality, collective bargaining, job quality and high social trust. However, changes in the nature of work and modern capitalism is challenging and transforming the Nordic labour markets. New technologies and digital work platforms change employment relationships and working conditions. Polarization and precarization of the labour market reduces income equality and social trust. Labour migration and new preferences challenges traditional collective bargaining systems. The conference address among other things the history, evolution and sustainability of the Nordic models, the similarities and differences between the Nordic countries, how current challenges are handled and working life is transforming in the Nordic countries.

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    1.

    "The role of law in the development of Nordic industrial relations – from the EU to the national dimension and back" by Ann-Christine Hartzén (Linnaeus University) and Andrea Iossa (Lund University)

    Abstract

    Law plays a fundamental role in shaping the functioning of industrial relations by setting the framework for the collective regulation of employment relations and of the labour market (Iossa, 2017). This element is particularly relevant in the Nordic context, despite the worldwide reputation of law’s neutrality in industrial relations (Fahlbeck, 2002). The membership of (some) of the Nordic countries in the EU adds a further level of complexity – given by the regulatory presence of EU law. EU law has for quite some time now been discussed as challenging the Nordic models of industrial relations, not least through the outcome of the (in)famous Viking and Laval case law (C-438/05 Viking Line and C-341/05 Laval). Those cases have highlighted the potentially disruptive effects that can derive from the mismatch between the uniform regulatory framework of the EU internal market and the specific features of Nordic industrial relations. The differing effects of EU law for diverse national systems of industrial relations can also be understood as a challenge to EU level industrial relations, where the European Social Dialogue (ESD) has not managed to make use of strong national systems of industrial relations in order to further its own development (Hartzén, 2017).

    The diversity of industrial relations systems that characterizes the EU scenario is commonly indicated as an obstacle to the full development of the dynamics of ESD. However, discussions on whether the claims for protecting the Nordic model are constructive or counterproductive for further EU level developments are missing. In light of the above, this panel calls for papers discussing the role of law in the evolution of the Nordic systems of industrial relations and the potential contribution for developments of industrial relations at EU level. Such a discussion becomes of additional interest now that we see challenges to these models from within the nation state, for example through the current Swedish proposal on restrictions concerning the right to strike (Ds 2018:40). Industrial relations are in other words affected by law at both national and EU level. In addition, the effects of law for systems of industrial relations bear consequences at both national and EU level and these consequences are important to understand in order to discuss the possibilities for sustaining the Nordic models in the future. This session aims to address the links between law and industrial relations at and between both national and EU level, in order to further develop the discussion on the evolution and sustainability of the Nordic models.

    This session welcomes both empirical and theoretical contributions from various disciplines dealing with the links between law and the Nordic models of industrial relations in the EU context.


    Keywords

    EU law, Nordic models, European Social Dialogue, industrial relations

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    2.

    "Non-standard employment and precariousness in a Nordic context" by Stine Rasmussen (Aalborg University), Satu Ojala (University of Tampere) and Kristine Neergaard (FAFO)

    Abstract

    The Nordic countries are often highlighted as countries with relatively inclusive labour markets, which is often explained by a broad coverage of collective agreements with decent wages and working conditions for the working population and relatively generous systems of unemployment benefits and social assistance for a broad target group. Accordingly, the debate about precarious employment and working poor has attracted less attention in Nordic working life research compared to countries like the UK and the US, where many workers – often in non-standard employment forms – often struggle to make a living and face increased risks of precariousness.

    However, in recent years developments on the Nordic labour markets increasingly imply precarious elements of work, not solely but especially for persons working in flexible, non-standard employment forms (such as for instance marginal part-time, temporary contracts, temporary agency work, freelancers etc.). Furthermore, some of these flexible work forms are on the rise, while new ones emerge (for instance platform work/gig work).

    This session brings together papers that address non-standard employment and precarious work in a Nordic context. We especially welcome empirical and/or theoretical contributions on the following topics, although the list is not exclusive:

    • Work (or gigs) via digital platforms
    • Marginal part-time (less than 15 hours per week)
    • Zero-hour contracts
    • Temporary contracts
    • Casual work
    • Self-employed without employees
    • Temporary agency work

    The focus can be on how various forms of contract flexibilities affect wages, working conditions and the working life across sectors and countries. Do we find similar trends across the Nordic countries for instance a Nordic precariat? Or do developments differ across the Nordic countries and if so why? Can differences be explained by employee characteristics (age, gender, ethnicity, education etc.), by variations in the regulatory contexts or by different employer strategies? 
     

    Keywords

    Precariousness, segmentation, non-standard employment, flexible employment

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    3.

    "The Nordic way, is it under threat or still going strong? The Nordic model and work-life in the Nordic region, seen from whistleblowing research" by Brita Bjørkelo (Norwegian Police University College), Ulla-Carin Hedin (University of Gothenburg) and Erik Mygind du Plessis (Copenhagen Business School)

    Abstract

    The Nordic model of labour relations and work-life in the Nordic region emphasize collaboration, involvement and codetermination. When it comes to whistleblowing, employee codetermination and leadership emphasizing involvement are key to successful whistleblowing processes. Involvement and cooperation may facilitate organizational learning and prevent wrongdoing in the future. This may occur formally through legislation and channels for voice, and informally through arenas for reflection and discussion as well as organizational climate characterised by trust and openness.

    Whistleblowing is ‘the disclosure by organization members (former or current) of illegal, immoral or illegitimate practices under the control of their employers to persons or organizations that may be able to effect action’ (Miceli et al., 2008; Near et al., 2004; Near & Miceli, 1985, p. 4).

    This stream addresses who embodies the Nordic model of labour relations in practice, and what are central actors’ (health and safety representatives, employee representatives as well as formal leaders, colleagues, the whistleblower, and wrongdoers) experiences, when it comes to whistleblowing at work? Studies have indicated that whistleblowing is more effective and less risky in a Nordic setting. Simultaneously, other Nordic studies document devastating effects. This stream highlights this double-sided face of whistleblowing in Nordic working-life and asks the question whether “the Nordic way” is still going strong or rather under threat, when seen from whistleblowing research. We welcome possible explanations, and strongly encourages a blend of Nordic presentations. The aim is to bring researchers from all Nordic countries that study these and similar processes together.


    Keywords

    The Nordic model, Nordic working life, Central actors, Threat, Strong, Whistleblowing, Law and regulations, Efficiency, Consequence

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    4.

    "Evaluation of Working Life Interventions and Labour Market Policies" by Niklas Andersen (Aalborg University), Simo Aho (Tampere University) and Rasmus Ravn (Aalborg University)

    Abstract

    Evaluation, defined as the activity of “determining merit, worth, or significance” (Scriven, 2007), has proliferated across the Nordic countries in the last couple of decades. From the self-evaluation of employees in many workplaces to large-scale evaluations of labour market policies, evaluations are increasingly affecting the practices, organizations and policies related to modern working life. This raises important questions related to both the practice of evaluation in, and of, the Nordic Labour Markets, as well as the wider consequences that such evaluation activities have on employment relationships, working conditions, the policies and programs aimed at the unemployed etc. This session aims to bring together  research on both the practical application of evaluations in working life settings as well as perspectives on the consequences of such evaluations. We welcome contributions that address one or more of the following themes:

    First, how and why do actors and organizations use evaluations to change and develop the policies, institutions, organizations and practices of working life in the Nordic countries? What logics or rationales influence practices of evaluation utilization? Are evaluations used for control or learning or more symbolically or tactically to garner support and legitimacy?

    Second, how can evaluation practice be established and strengthened in relation to working life research? We especially welcome contributions with novel methodological and/or theoretical approaches to the evaluation of specific interventions such as for example; work environment, active labour market policies, job retention, anti-discrimination policies, job satisfaction etc. in the Nordic countries.

    Third, how are evaluation activities and their growing systematization and institutionalization in the procedures of individual organizations as well as political and organizational fields affecting policy making, modes of governance or organizational behaviour related to working life in the Nordic countries. How do actors and organizations change through engagement with evaluations? And what are the implications for relations of conflict, power and collaboration within changing Nordic Labour Markets.

    Finally, we welcome empirical papers evaluating specific policies or interventions related to working life settings or the labour market in broad terms. These may include (but are not limited to) studies utilizing user evaluation, process evaluation, interactive evaluation, impact evaluation, or theory based evaluation.


    Keywords

    Evaluation utilization, Evaluation Systems, Evaluation theories and methods, Labour Market Policies.
     

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    5.

    "Gendered labour market (dis)advantages in Nordic welfare states" by Armi Mustosmäki (University of Jyväskylä), Liza Reisel (Institute for Social Research) and Mari Teigen (Institute for Social Research)

    Abstract

    Gender equality has been one of the normative foundations of Nordic welfare states. Helga Hernes identified the Nordic countries as ‘potentially women-friendly societies’. She characterised women-friendly societies as ones that ‘would not force harder choices on women than on men’. Hernes also envisaged that women-friendliness should be achieved without increasing other forms of inequality, such as class inequality.

    Publicly funded welfare services and policies that facilitate the reconciliation of work and family aim at promoting women's labour market participation. However, according to some studies, women in Nordic labour markets may face more difficulties in their career progression when compared to their female counterparts in less regulated labour markets and less generous welfare states. Glass ceilings and glass doors may persist in Nordic countries due to family leaves and gender segregated labour markets. The hypothesis on women’s disadvantage in occupational achievements in Nordic countries has gained both support and criticism in comparative studies.

    In this special issue/thematic session, we are interested in various forms of gendered labour market (dis)advantage in Nordic countries. Furthermore, we ask how gender segregation, welfare state policies, labour market policies and various labour market actors interact to produce, maintain, challenge or change gender equality in the labour market in the Nordic countries and beyond.  We are looking for comparative studies, as well as country case studies. This special issue/thematic session welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions that discuss the gender gap in working life from various perspectives and in various labour market contexts. Relevant topics include, but are not limited to, studies that explore analyses of power relations and policy processes affecting gender in/equality, the impact of horizontal and vertical segregation on gender equality outcomes, and studies addressing in what ways women in Nordic countries are dis/advantaged in terms of career achievements, wages, managerial positions, academic positions, and quality of jobs.


    Keywords

    Gender equality, comparative research, power relations, welfare state policy, labour policy, gender segregation, wage gap, job quality
     

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    6.

    "Seniors and the labour market" by Peter Nielsen (Aalborg University)

    Abstract

    Pension reforms have extended working life in most European countries, and the challenges of differences in health conditions have increased. At the workplace level, various factors related to the organization of work and management of the human resources have influence on early or late retirement. Senior policies, used by management to influence retirement behavior, may be more or less efficient in their practical use in relation to different occupations. However, senior practices – whether in a policy or not – may be an important tool to better manage the needs of the senior workers. At the individual level the work environment and -relations are important for motivation to stay or leave working life. We call for papers related to research on seniors at the labour maket, either from a societal perspective, a workplace perspective, an individual perspective or on the interaction between levels. Please send abstracts to peter@dps.aau.dk


    Keywords

    Seniors at the labour market, Societal perspective, Workplace perspective, Individual perspective
     

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    7.

    "Technological change, digitalization, and quality of work" by Tomas Berglund (University of Gothenburg), Bertil Rolandsson (University of Gothenburg), Jon Erik Dølvik, (Fafo), Jørgen Svalund (Fafo)

    Abstract

    Since the 1960s, growing use of ICT technology at work has been foreseen to replace employees and change the demand for skills in the remaining workforce. Despite earlier concern for the end of work, alienation, deskilling, and degradation of labour (Braverman 1977; Gorz 1984; Rifkin 1991), a dominant view has been that ICT-driven changes at work strengthen the demand for skills and highly educated labour (Skilled Biased Technological Change, Katz and Murphy 1992). While the latter entails an optimistic view of ICT prompting upgrading of work , the pessimistic perception of skills and job polarization has recently gained support from the thesis of Routine Biased Technological Change (Autor et al. 2006 ) implying that current leaps in digital tools and artificial intelligence enable automation and replacement also of cognitive routine work in the middle of the occupational structure.

    Since many non-routine, labour intensive, and customer-reliant jobs, for instance in personal services, do not lend themselves to technological rationalization and demand is enhanced by rising incomes in the upper end, several studies, notably from the US, have predicted continued growth in low-skilled, simple jobs. The predicted rise in the top, hollowing out in the middle, and growth in the low end has revived the old debate about polarization or bifurcation of the jobs and skills structure. Yet, the demand for and supply of different kinds of labour and skills are not determined by technology alone but are contingent on market conditions and a range of institutional factors related, for instance, to wage formation, education/training, welfare services, taxation and macro-economic policies. The impact of digitalization on work may thus vary across countries, industries, and labour market systems.

    To this session, we welcome theoretical and/or empirical focused papers. They can be comparative or single case studies, have a national, Nordic or broader international focus. Both paper based on quantitative or qualitative research methods are welcomed.


    Keywords

    Digitalization, occupational change, industrial relations, skill-formation

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    8.

    "The ageing population and older workers’ participation in working life" by Reidar J Mykletun (University of Stavanger), Roland Kaderfors (University of Goteborg), Per Erik Solem (NOVA/OsloMet) and Robert Salomon (WRI, Oslo Met)

    Abstract

    The increasing proportion of elderly inhabitants caused by increased longevity and the large cohorts of children born after World War II increases the proportion of older people in the population, affecting all public and private economic activity (Henkens et al., 2017). With a minor or negative growth in the younger population, a lower proportion of the population will be participating in the production to provide the economical surplus that upholds the welfare state. The ability of the welfare states to keep up their current standards of living conditions and cultural activities are at stake (Teitelbaum & Winter, 2013). However, as the health conditions of the elderly are improving (Santoni et al., 2015), there are options for growth in the economic sectors due to potential resources the elderly constitute as workforce as well as an increase in consumption of services and consumables.

    Against this backdrop, governments have stated a need for prolonging work careers of all workforces (Christensen et al., 2009; Kontis et al., 2017). At present, workers’ career lengths vary within the Nordic, the OECD, and EU countries. The average retirement ages for men / women over five years from 2012 – 2017 were 64.3 / 63.1 years in the OECD27 countries, 64.6 / 62.8 in Denmark, 63.8 / 63.1 in Finland, 69.8 / 66.6 in Iceland, 65.4 / 64.1 in  Norway, and 66 / 65.5 in Sweden (http://www.oecd.org/els/emp/average-effective-age-of-retirement.htm). In Q-1, 2019, the gainfully employed proportions of the 55 – 64 years old in the OECD27 countries were 61.7 percent as compared to 59.3 percent in EU28, 71.5 percent in Denmark, 65.9 percent in Finland, 81.6 in Iceland, 71.6 in Norway, and 78.4 in Sweden (http://www.oecd.org/employment/ageingandemploymentpolicies.htm). Beyond these observed average values, occupational, organisational, and individual variabilities are in existence. In general, the Nordic region except Finland ranges among the top eight of the OECD countries with regards to participation in working life among the population aged 55-64 years and, including Finland, above the EU27 averages.

    Several factors may relate to or cause these differences. The proposed thematic paper session invites research contributions addressing such factors that hinder or promote extended work careers versus retirement intentions or behaviour. In line with the conference theme, the session will relate to the history, evolution, and sustainability of the Nordic models, the similarities and differences between the Nordic countries, managing of current challenges, and working life transformations. While the background for the session is the Nordic countries, contributions from a larger international milieu ire also welcomed. Topics may include (but are not limited to): a) an agency perspective focusing on workers’ motivation, values, attitudes, health, family, competences, and work adjustment; b) a socio-emotional perspective focusing on leadership, innovation, interactions, inter-generational cooperation and conflicts, ageism, group norms and group-person fit, social support, and inclusion versus their opposites; or c) a structural perspective focusing on support versus limitations and exclusion related to mandatory retirement, leadership, unions, or owners’ actions.


    Keywords

    Ageing workforce, Age discrimination, Age-diverse workforce, Ageism, Bridge employment, Career extension, Leadership and older workers, Retirement, Social and organisational factors
     

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    9.

    "Are Nordic labour markets inclusive for persons with disabilities?" by Kaja Larsen Østerud (Norwegian Social Research, Oslo Metropolitan University), Elif Taylan (Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration), Thomas Bredgaard (Aalborg University), Finn Amby (VIA University College) and Frederik Thuesen (VIVE – The Danish Centre for Social Science Research)

    Abstract

    In spite of Nordic labour markets’ many strong suits in terms of equality and social security, there remains a large employment gap between people with and without disabilities. The case for addressing this gap is strong, both in terms of societal financial gains and savings and in terms of bettering opportunities for inclusion in society for people with disabilities. The UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities article 27 recognizes the right to work on equal basis with others in accessible and open work environments, and addresses the right to escape discrimination, access just working conditions, accommodation, employment opportunities and career advancement for people with disabilities.

    In this session, we address the barriers and possibilities for employment of people with disabilities in the Nordic countries. Much research has addressed the supply-side of the employment equation, less on the demand-side, i.e. the role and functions of employers. Thus, in this session we invite contributions that focus on the following topics:

    • Similarities and differences in disability and employment policies in the Nordic countries 
    • The attitudes and behavior of employers towards people with disabilities 
    • Public employment service and their ability to foster labor market participation for people with disabilities 
    • Promising ways forward to improve the labour market integration people with disabilities


    Keywords

    Disability, Active Labour Market Policies, Demand-side approaches to labour market integration, Employment policies, Labour Market participation
     

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    10.

    "The Role of VET and Apprenticeship Training in a Phase of Transformative Change in North-European Working Life" by Jon Erik Dølvik (Fafo), Anna Hagen Tønder (Fafo) and Jens Arnholtz (FAOS /University of Copenhagen)

    Abstract

    In the Nordic countries, vocational education and training (VET) has evolved differently over recent decades, in particular the role of apprenticeships (Jørgensen, Olsen & Thunqvist, 2018). The choices made by the organizations of employers, labour, and governments in the Nordic countries have led to very different VET trajectories. Presently, the fourth industrial revolution is making skill formation, VET, and further training a topical issue. In parallel, academic drift and the extension of the transnational European labour market, with free flow of labour and services, has altered students’ preferences and companies access to skilled labour. As organizers of a comparative North European project on VET and labour migration, it would in our view be great if NWLC could provide an arena for open scholarly discussion about the role of VET in tackling these challenges in a broader Nordic and European perspective. In this workshop we therefore invite papers that address how such transformatory developments affect VET-systems and policies in North European contexts.

    In the comparative literature, a number of typologies have been developed to distinguish between different VET models. Major dimensions in the typologies are related to the structure and content of training, how it is regulated, where training takes place and the degree of state and company involvement in governance of VET. Greinert (2004) makes a distinction between market-based, state-regulated and corporatist training regimes. While Denmark, Norway (and Iceland?) are associated with the latter, apprentice-based regimes, Sweden and Finland, belonging to the former, have developed unified school based systems, with eligibility to higher education for all as an important policy goal (Thunqvist, Tønder & Reegård 2019).

    In this workshop, we aim to gather scholars engaged in studying the driving forces, consequences, and policy responses related to the multifold challenges straining Nordic VET systems. As to the impact of cross-border labour mobility, we aim to present a set of papers addressing VET developments in construction, Horeca, and manufacturing emerging from the mentioned comparative European project, covering Denmark, Norway, Poland and Switzerland, and the possible EU role in strengthening skill formation and preventing poaching across national boundaries. Further, we hope to attract papers addressing how VET systems are influenced by the digital revolution, how they can become better tailored to facilitate inclusion of the newly arrived migrants in working lives, and how improved bridges between initial and higher VET and the systems of tertiary education and Life Long Learning can counter labour market dualization. Central questions in all these respects are whether and how the institutional framework and financing of VET-systems can be reformed in ways that spur broader mobilization of companies and organized actors in contributing to these societal objectives. In addressing the issues, we would welcome empirical, theoretical, and methodological papers where quantitative as well as qualitative approaches are appreciated.


    Keywords

    Vocational education and training, Labour migration, Digitalization, Academic drift, Inclusion
     

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    11.

    "Power resource theory revisited" by Bjarke Refslund (Aalborg University) and Jens Arnholtz (University of Copenhagen)

    Abstract

    Power resource theory (PRT) has featured prominent in many historical accounts of changes and developments in labour markets and social policy (Esping-Andersen, 1985; Esping-Andersen and Korpi, 1984; Korpi, 1978; Stephens, 1979), but despite some contributions (e.g. Benassi and Vlandas, 2016; Wagner and Refslund, 2016) the frameworks’ contributions to our understanding of more recent labour market changes has been more sparse. This session therefore raise the question whether PRT still is a vibrant approach for understanding industrial relations and labour market changes. While union power (at least numerical) has been declining in most European countries, it remains high in the Nordic countries (Andersen et al., 2014). Since the Nordic countries often have been at the centre of PRT analysis it is pertinent to re-assess the influence and rigour of PRT in these settings. The impact of PRT does however expand beyond the Nordic countries and in particular, the ability of the framework to explain recent labour market changes following developments such as increasing labour migration and labour market dualisation may be relevant.

    The session will in particular emphasis how PRT can contribute to the contemporary and historical analysis of institutions, the institutional embeddedness of actors, and institutional change and general theoretical perspectives beyond the workplace level on societal developments, e.g. changes in welfare regimes and more recently the growth model discussion. Empirical paper utilising PRT in the analysis is also welcomed.

    The session welcomes mainly full papers that deal with PRT or aspects of PRT in a theoretical and/or empirical aspect. Papers that discuss the utility of the framework are in particular welcomed.


    Keywords

    Power resource theory, unions, employers, institutional change, grand theory
     

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    12.

    "Taking stock: Thirty years of transformation of journalistic labour" by Monika Metykova (University of Sussex) and Lenka Waschkova Cisarova (Masaryk University)

    Abstract

    The journalistic profession and journalists' labour have undergone significant changes in the past three decades. These are linked to technological developments as well as broader socio-political and economic changes. Apart from the most widely studied influences - the impact of new technologies and economic pressures - the past thirty years also involved the transformation of the journalistic profession and labour as a result of the fall of communism in East Central Europe, the re-unification of Germany or the break-up of Yugoslavia. Studies on the working lives of journalists continue to be scarce. We reviewed all the volumes of three key academic journals devoted to the study of journalism, namely Journalism Studies, Digital Journalism and Journalism Practice and found a limited number of studies that deal with journalists' working lives and these tend to focus on the impact of technological change and economic pressures. The studies also tend to focus on the US and UK, with occasional research on Nordic countries. In order to address the lack in research, we propose a broadly conceptualized session that will address three key areas:

    1. What insights and developments has research on journalists' labour, working lives and conditions of work uncovered in the past three decades? 
    2. What gaps can we identify in such research?
    3. What new avenues - including theoretical and methodological approaches - are required for future research?


    Keywords

    Journalism, labour, technological changes, economic pressures, socio-political developments
     

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    13.

    "No more Colorless working life" by Mervi Hasu (University of Oslo) and Pia Houni (Finnish Institute of Occupational Health)

    Abstract

    In 2018 we had a working group No more Colorless working life in Oslo and the topic raised general interest. We are motivated to work forward with this topic. We are inviting diverse papers for this working group. We are interested to offer a platform for topics looking at something new, such as inspirational ideas and creating courageous concepts of working life. Colorful working life could be a huge possibility and opportunity for us, even though we might have some general fears against technology or change. We are also inviting “an emotional topic” to learn more about individual and personal agengy in working life. Perhaps it is time to let go the word ‘employee’, but how could we rename ourselves as working personalities?

    In recent years working life has undergone many changes. After the Industrial revolution, since 19th century working life has become more global and oriented by economical values. Obviously economical questions have always been at the heart of work, but after this first “big change”, the volume of economy has grown strongly. As the second “big change” followed, - perhaps some fiction writers were able to imagine it better than researchers – it exploded the whole idea of work and subsequently manners, structures, positions and other previous stabilities in working life. Step by step after second world war the development of technology has taken a central part in our working life. Small digital and service businesses can grow to be important players in the global market, but still employ much less people than the traditional industry. We now understand that employees are not “Fordist slaves” anymore, rather they are “innovators”.

    In Nordic countries this is very easy to see, as we have been forerunners in innovations and new skills. Technology has made daily working life diverse: in 1969 the internet opened up a whole new world, digitalization and smart technology are more and more important elements in working life, and together all these have impacted the idea of work dramatically. How do we even understand work at the moment? Where and how are we working at the moment, when even work places as material spaces are transforming into virtual platforms. Is the most profitable work actually consumption of digital contents (owned by and profiting for the giant internet firms), which we increasingly produce or co-produce as users? Contemporary employees have the possibility to be more consumer-like, individual and physically independent than before. Individual capabilities are at the heart of modern work and we could even call modern employee’s as “prosumers”.

    One necessary step is to understand the idea of an individual employee and changing working life relations to look at work through the employee. What does it mean to be an individual in the working life? What kind of power will a person or personality have in future working life? At the moment working life or workplaces are not forerunners, but the individuals are. In many cases this means that people are “creators” for their own and future work.

    In Nordic countries we already have a number of people whose work is based on their personal life (new digital professions like youtubers, bloggers, social media workers etc.). Many universities are hiring “big names” to get more public or economic visibility rather than hiring people for their traditional professional merits. We are living in a time, where it is impossible to foresee what kind of working duties and positions there will be in the future.

    This means that more focus needs to be put to the emotional and affective aspects in the world of work. When people work more deeply with their own capabilities and individual talents (like artists), there is more need to understand emotion, compassion, insecurities, existential or spiritual well-being,and mental health.


    Keywords

    Individual capabilities, a new work, Creative, Places of work, Independently, Emotions

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    14.

    "Making sense of institutional changes in the welfare professions" by Henrik Loodin (Lund University) and Johan Alvehus (Lund University)

    Abstract

    There are diverse working conditions in welfare service professions. In the nordic countries, the public sector is one of the major employers. The sector is under constant changes, contributing to new complex and paradoxical professional landscapes (Alvehus & Andersson, 2018). The Nordic welfare model is known for high taxes, bureaucratic organization and heavy management, while at the same time providing universal, general and legitimate social insurance systems of high quality (Esping-Andersen, 2002). The purpose of the Nordic model is to make citizens’ lives less dependent on the opportunistic whims of the market and reciprocal familial bonds (Loodin, 2019). Nevertheless, the welfare model is costly and requires large public resources (Rothstein 2014). Several attempts has been made to reform the welfare model to make the public sector more effective and user friendly in the Nordic countries. Privatization and new public management (NPM) reforms have been  implemented rapidly, but has proven to to be extensive and resilient (Svallfors & Tyllström, 2018). These reforms change the operational principles of the welfare system and the working condtions for welfare professions. However, in the wake of reforms, working conditions in welfare professions, e.g. teachers, policeforce, social and health care workers, also changes – for better, worse or both.

    This session calls for papers that problematize and discuss aspects of the changing institutional conditions for welfare professions. Topics of interest include, but are not limited to:

    • Professionalization, deprofessionalization, and re-professionalization 
    • Marketisation
    • Hybrid forms of organizing
    • Management after New Public Management
    • Trust and control in and of public services
    • Violence and threat of violence in welfare service professions

    We also welcome topics connected to labor market such as gender segregation, fragmentation, employment terms, and welfare entrepreneurs.


    Keywords

    Welfare professions, welfare services, public sector, marketization, labour segregation, hybrid organisation
     

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    15.

    "Nordic industrial relations and collective bargaining under strain" by Laust Høgedahl (Aalborg University) and Paul Jonker-Hoffrén (University of Tampere)

    Abstract

    The Nordic countries are renowned for a high level of collective bargaining and an institutional framework for mediation and arbitration. These features have recently been highlighted by e.g. OECD as important elements in small, open economies. However, a number of challenges can be identified among the Nordic industrial relations systems including dropping trade union densities, collective bargaining overage, Europeanization and internationalization etc.

    Hence, in this session, we invite papers dealing with the Nordic industrial relations systems and collective bargaining in a broad sense. Papers dealing with challenges and tensions in terms of collective bargaining and industrial conflict etc. are very welcome. We also invite papers examining unionization and organization trends in a Nordic context.


    Keywords   

    Industrial relations, Collective bargaining, Industrial conflict, Mediation, Unionization

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    16.

    "Positive psychosocial factors at work" by Louise Møller Pedersen (Aalborg University) and Andreas Lindegaard Jakobsen (Aalborg University)

    Abstract

    Previous research have shown that psychosocial work environment has an impact on the employees' physical and mental health. However, research on psychosocial work environment has traditionally focused on risk factors for various negative health outcomes, e.g. stress and depression. As a result, much more knowledge exists on causes of negative, rather than positive work-related outcomes.

    However, a research-oriented reorientation has evolved towards positive states and concepts of psychological working environment. This perspective implies an extension of the traditional working environment understanding, where focus on minimizing risk factors, is supplemented or replaced with a focus on positive psychosocial factors.

    Positive psychosocial factors in the work environment, can be defines as factors that in themselves, or by counteracting the effect of risk factors in the work environment, contributes to positive outcomes such as well-being, productivity, personal development, quality of work and / or reduce the likelihood of various negative health outcomes. Moreover, positive factors are not just the opposite or a counterpart to risk factors, as positive psychosocial factors can have unique effects on various health outcomes, that cannot be explained solely on the basis of negative factors.

    Examples of positive psychosocial work environment factors are: social capital, meaningfulness, engagement and commitment9 and the concept of positive factors is therefore a broad term related to dimensions such as the content and organization of work, social relationships at work, and positive psychological states at work.

    However further research is needed, both to investigate the possible effects from positive psychosocial work environment factors and to investigate how these positive factors are maintained and or increased at work. Additionally, there is a need for developing concepts and theories and understandings of positive psychosocial factors at work.
     

    Keywords

    Positive psychosocial work environment, individual and work place outcomes, social capital
     

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    17.

    " Employment trajectories and socio-economic integration among Refugees and Immigrants" by Karen N. Breidahl (Aalborg University) and Hanne Kavli (FAFO)

    Abstract

    The inflow of migrants and refugees present opportunities and challenges for Nordic labour markets. Labour migrants may increase labour supply and human capital, but also challenge the Nordic model of labour regulation. Low participation and employment rates of refugees, family reunified foreigners and migrants from third world countries challenges the financial sustainability and social cohesion of the Nordic welfare states.

    These issues have not gone unnoticed by working life researchers. Working life studies have focused on integration and the cultural aspect of the workplaces, various forms of inequality and discrimination of immigrants, employment patterns among immigrants, and income discrepancies compared with those of native-born people.

    This session summons researchers who focus on the employment trajectories of refugees and immigrants and their inclusion/exclusion in working life. We welcome theoretical, methodological and empirical papers based in both quantitative and qualitative studies.

    Among others, papers could address:

    • The opportunities and challenges that migrants and refugees present to the Nordic labour markets and societies 
    • Barriers and possibilities when entering the Nordic labour markets 
    • Meetings between different (professional) cultures in the workplace 
    • Organizational development and diversity (management) 
    • Innovation and changes in technologies or methods as a result of multicultural work practices 
    • Issues of discrimination and inequality 
    • Different types of employment and employment conditions for migrant groups 
    • The role and impact of policies and institutions in facilitating labour market integration 
    • How the waiting period in asylum reception prepare asylum seekers for life afterwards (e.g. subsequent labour market integration) 
    • The role of street level organizations – how labour market integration policies are ‘made on the ground’


    Keywords

    Refugees, Employment trajectories, Labour market
     

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    18.

    "Challenges and new organizing in elementary schools" by Karen Albertsen (TeamArbejdsliv.dk) and Anita Mac (Roskilde University)

    Abstract

    This session focuses on challenges and consequences of transformation processes taking place in elementary schools in the Nordic countries within the last decades. Processes that among others have changed the conditions for management as well as staff. New law and regulations based upon an enhanced political focus on conditions and results in elementary schools have e.g. implied a need for new types of collaboration among staff and between staff and management at all levels in the schools. Furthermore, school-management are expected to manage according to explicit and detailed political demands and consequently, influence and control may move from teachers and pedagogical staff to management and political decisionmakers. Simultaneously, a need to move from the logic of “the autonomous teachers” to a logic of “team membership” may open for new opportunities to build up professional communities and enabling common learning and corporation. Or what? What are really the consequences of changing conditions in public schools? This session invites papers from studies concerning:

    • Challenges and new organizing of collaboration
    • Management of change processes
    • Change from the autonomous teacher to team membership
    • Social- and professional capital within schools
    • Conflicts and conflict resolution in a school context
    • Challenges associated with inclusion of children in special needs


    Keywords

    Elementary Schools, New ways of organizing, School-management, Collaboration within schools, Opportunities and challenges for work-conditions
     

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    19.

    "Supported employment within active labour market policies in the Nordic countries" by Stefan Hardonk (University of Iceland), Øystein Spjelkavik (Oslo Metropolitan University), Johanna Gustafsson (Örebro University) and Inge Storgaard Bonfils (University College Copenhagen)

    Abstract

    As a response to the limitations of traditional vocational rehabilitation supported employment was developed to provide a new type of services for disabled people aimed at obtaining and maintaining employment in the competitive labour market. Within supported employment the emphasis is on rapid placement and further training in the job, as opposed to traditional train-then-place approaches. In addition, supported employment places much emphasis on working with the preferences and needs of its clients. (Bond et al., 2001)

    Given the success of supported employment in the USA the past decades have seen the adoption of supported employment programmes and services inspired by supported employment in other parts of the world including the Nordic countries, where this has become adopted by the public employment services and private service providers in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Iceland (Spjelkavik, 2011 & 2012). While in Denmark schemes such as Flexjobs have been available, supported employment was not introduced until 2012 when the Individual Placement and Support model – an evidence-based approach of supported employment aimed originally at people with mental illnesses – was implemented (Christensen, 2018).

    Increasingly supported employment has become a part of active labor market policy in the Nordic countries, for example in Norway and Sweden, and Individual Placement and Support in particular has gained attention of policy makers who prioritise evidence-based interventions. There have also been initiatives in some Nordic countries to develop supported employment for new target groups, such as immigrants, refugees, and early school leavers who have in common that they face difficulties in participating in work on the regular labour market (Frøyland , 2016; Frøyland, Spjelkavik & Bernstrøm, 2018; Maximova-Mentzoni et al. 2018).

    The development whereby supported employment is becoming more and more a part of active labour market policies not only supports the widespread adoption and development of the service, but it also leads to discussions about which approach is most successful for certain groups and within certain contexts. In addition, it raises questions about quality, duration of support, desired outcomes, financing schemes and the terms in which success of supported employment programmes should be assessed. Questions about quality and results of supported employment programmes within the context of active labor market policy connect to two opposing discourses about work as a right that needs to be supported so that everyone can enjoy it (see also art. 27 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities) and work as a duty of those who wish to be a beneficiary of the arrangements of the welfare state. This provides the background against which the future of supported employment in the Nordic countries can be considered, for example by looking at the tensions that arise between the goals of active labor market policies and the idea that supported employment should lead to sustainable employment by making workplaces more inclusive and adopting approaches such as customized employment.

    The aim of this session is to bring together research about supported employment in the Nordic countries that engages with questions about effectiveness and quality within the context of active labor market policies.

    The session welcomes papers addressing topics about the implementation of supported employment in the Nordic countries aimed at disabled people as well as other groups with difficult access to the labour market. We invite contributions from different perspectives (e.g. clients‘, employers‘, job coaches‘), research methods and theoretical frameworks, with a particular emphasis on the role of supported employment within active labor market policies in the Nordic countries, associated tensions and challenges for research and professional development of supported employment.

    The organisers of the session recently established a Nordic network to promote research and further professional development of supported employment.


    Keywords

    Supported employment, individual placement and support, work inclusion, active labour market policy, disability
     

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    20.

    "New Technologies, Professions and professionalism" by Annette Kamp (Roskilde University), Sidsel Lond Grosen (Roskilde University) and Agnete Meldgaard Hansen (Roskilde University)

    Abstract 

    Digitalization, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotization, Automation and other technological advances are expected to have significant impacts on the present and future working life of professionals. For exam-ple, Susskind & Susskind (2015) predict the decline of today’s professions in the face of “'increasingly ca-pable systems' - from telepresence to artificial intelligence”, which will contribute to drastic changes in how expertise and knowledge is produced and distributed in our societies. They predict increased stand-ardization of professional work, less gatekeeping and dissemination of knowledge, and replacement of professionals by computers and algorithms capable of processing large bodies of data. Furthermore, in relation these developments, they predict far-reaching changes in professional working lives related to increased outsourcing, precarious employment, and new divisions of labor between different groups of professionals, as well as between professionals and users.

    While broad, sweeping predictions such as these have a narrative appeal and may speak to both dystopi-an and utopian imaginaries regarding the future of working life, they also overlook many key insights from decades of research on the interplay of (new) technologies and working life. This research emphasizes the significance of differences in fields and institutional contexts for how new technologies are brought into play, and further point to the social shaping of technology in work places and work practices (Orlikowski, 2010; Wajcman, J. & McKenzie, 1999).

    Furthermore, if we understand professions as encom-passing both the classical professions, but also the large and growing groups of professionals working to heal, help, control, coach, and educate the users, clients, patients, students etc. of the welfare state (Järvinen & Mik-Meyer, 2012) and beyond, the complexity of the question of the future of the profes-sions rises further. Therefore, in this session we aim at exploring the complex ways in which new tech-nologies affect professional work, professional identity, professionalism and working life. We invite con-tributions that seek to develop the study of technology, professions and professionalism empirically and theoretically, emphasizing context, complexity and practice.

    Contributions might focus on some of the following topics and questions:

    • How does new technology implicate changes in professionalism, professional identities and meaning in work, and affect relations and hierarchies between professionals? 
    • How are invisible work, and resistance evoked and negotiated as a result of the contested and ambiguous aspects of these change processes? 
    • How may spaces for employee-driven innovation and creative use of technology be created, used and supported? 
    • How do new technologies affect temporalities of work, leading for example to compression, ac-celeration or new rooms for reflection? 
    • How do new technologies imply new forms of control and surveillance? And how do they affect discretion and autonomy in work?


    Keywords

    Digitalization, automation, Artificial intelligence, professionalism, identity and meaning in work, participation
     

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    21.

    Open session for papers and abstracts that does not fall under the other sessions

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