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CPOW-CRIMT response to COVID-19

Kate Farhall

May 7, 2020

The COVID-19 crisis is rapidly reshaping the world of work, but it is also rapidly reshaping the world of work-related research.

CPOW is a key partner centre on the ‘Institutional Experimentation for Better Work’ project, headquartered at the Interuniversity Research Centre on Globalisation and Work (CRIMT) in Montreal, Canada and funded by a large Canadian government grant.

The Project seeks to build knowledge and understanding regarding how to make work ‘better’. Better work is work which is secure, meaningful and productive for workers. The focus of the project is on actors in the world of work, such as employers, unions and governments, who engage in social ‘experimentation’ by trying new ways of regulating and negotiating work’s challenges, and on whether that experimentation leads to improved outcomes for workers.

But what happens when the world of work is thrown into chaos by a viral pandemic, rapidly redefining whose jobs are valued, redrawing lines about who is worthy of government support, and further blurring the arbitrary boundaries we create between work and home? How do we capture this shifting landscape, while maintaining a focus on ‘better work’ outcomes, even as the crisis threatens to deepen social and economic inequalities? And how do we achieve all this in a time of social distancing and the strict regulation of movement and access?

The current situation poses new challenges to research into work and employment, at the same time as it presents new imperatives to capture data, information and experiences. Members of the CPOW-CRIMT partnership are seeking to address these challenges via the establishment of a digital repository of data and analysis regarding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the world of work. This will be focussed through our major areas of research here in CPOW, as they articulate with the CRIMT ‘better work’ project:

  1. Precarious work;
  2. Inequalities and exploitation at work;
  3. Political economy of work (including the financialisation of work);
  4. Social care and support work; and
  5. Organisations and work.

This database will provide a robust and comprehensive set of materials that can inform future analyses, including future blog posts here at ‘CPOW in the Time of COVID-19’.

Later in the year, this work will continue to be developed via a series of workshops, and in conversation with our global partners on the Project. These discussions will outline the bases for future research, to ensure that the CPOW-CRIMT partnership is able to continue to generate meaningful, policy-relevant research and analyses that provide the basis for better, more decent, meaningful and equal work.

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