Work autonomy and workplace democracy: the polarization of the goods of work autonomy in the two worlds of work

Chi KWOK*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Political theorists have been framing the problems of unfreedom and domination at work as inconsistent with the requirements of political democracy, undermining the democratic potential of the workplace and inducing psychological and status harm. Although these are important insights, political theorists are often unwilling to frame the hierarchical workplace as an issue of distributive justice. This paper, by bringing in the empirical literature on work autonomy, offers a framework to explicate the relationship between freedom at work and the distribution of essential goods at paid work. Through such framework, the paper argues that procedural and substantive freedom at work are essential to the fair distribution of the goods of work. By examining the empirical literature, the paper further argues that there exists a polarization of the goods of work between high-skilled and low-skilled labor, and the polarization offers a pro-tanto justification of workplace democracy for the least advantaged workers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)351-372
Number of pages22
JournalReview of Social Economy
Volume78
Issue number3
Early online date21 Nov 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 The Association for Social Economics.

Keywords

  • distributive justice
  • work autonomy
  • Workplace democracy

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