Contemporary challenges in meaningful work

Catherine Bailey, Adrian Madden

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Research has shown that meaningful work is important to individuals, organisations and society. However, there is a risk that contemporary challenges in the world of work such as globalisation, digitisation, increasing precarity and new business models that upturn the employment relationship may render work meaningless to individuals. Through tracing the history of meaningful work in the philosophy, ethics, sociology, psychology and management studies literatures, we find that meaningfulness has been interpreted in widely differing ways. Generally, though, the evidence base suggests that meaningfulness is associated with a range of positive outcomes, but there is also the risk that the pursuit of meaningfulness may draw people into working practices that are harmful to their wellbeing. Gaps within our understanding of the nature and experience of meaningfulness suggest that this is an area with rich opportunities for further research endeavours that connect meaningfulness with new forms of employment.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Future of Work and Employment
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9781786438256
ISBN (Print)9781786438249
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Adrian Wilkinson and Michael Barry 2020. All rights reserved.

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