How bright are the Nordic Lights? : job quality trends in Nordic countries in a comparative perspective
Nordic countries stand out from the rest of the Europe in terms of job quality. Comparative research literature sought to explain the distinctiveness of Nordic countries with diverse sets of institutional frameworks. However, global competition, technological revolution and deregulation are common developments throughout the industrial world – processes which are seen to erode the meaning of institutions and nation states as protective mechanisms. This dissertation discusses the question on the existence and persistence of the Nordic working life model through the concept of job quality, which are investigated using surveys on working conditions. The study draws from both universal and institutional theories to examine changes in work life comparatively. The results lend support to a persistence of high quality of work life in Nordic countries: the Nordic countries stood out as the only group where employees’ possibilities to influence their work and use and develop skills were high and continued to increase. Furthermore, as institutional theory expects, the risk of class polarization was found to be low as inequalities in job quality have decreased between manual and professional employees. The findings partly challenge, partly support the claims concerning the gender equality paradox in work life in Nordic countries: gender gap in job quality was decreasing in all regimes, and had disappeared between upper white-collar women and men in Finland. However, gender gap in job quality remained the widest in Nordic countries, and was found to be especially persistent among lower white collar female and male employees in Finland. Several seepages of institutions were pointed out: intensification of work has increased significantly, especially for women. Perceived job insecurity has increased and become common experience regardless of class. Low class inequality was in fact partly due to the degradation of job quality of male professionals and managers. In addition, the study found that benchmarked managerial practices, interpreted as institutional avoidance, demand attention to sectoral and managerial logics in rapidly emerging service industries. These practices challenge the functioning of institutions as protecting mechanisms. Consequently, the study concludes that the capability of institutions to resist the pressures for change and insulate the consequent deterioration of job quality becomes debatable. ...
Alternative titleJob quality trends in Nordic countries in a comparative perspective
PublisherUniversity of Jyväskylä
work life change job quality institutional theories gender equality comparative research class inequality Nordic countries Vertaileva tutkimus Kyselytutkimus työelämä laatu muutos tasa-arvo eriarvoisuus työntekijät ammattiasema yhteiskuntaluokat työmarkkinat rakenne instituutiot kansainvälinen vertailu vaikuttaminen työ sukupuoli rakennepolitiikka polarisaatio (yhteiskuntatieteet) kehittäminen globalisaatio polarisaatio Suomi Pohjoismaat Eurooppa
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