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Daniel Wheatley

Researching the quality of working lives involves investigating the resources, activities, and outcomes of paid and unpaid work. Research in this field is multi-disciplinary in nature encompassing a range of sub-disciplines within the social sciences including economics, human resource management, industrial relations, psychology, and social policy. Consistent with the multiple disciplines researching in this field, a variety of methods are employed in the study of the quality of working lives. This handbook provides reflections from researchers on recent research which has contributed to the expanding international evidence base, collecting together research in quantitative, qualitative, and mixed methods traditions from key contributors in the field. This introductory chapter reflects on the changing nature of work and the meaning and impacts of job quality in contemporary societies, before outlining the structure of the handbook.

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Edited by Daniel Wheatley

The growing diversity of contemporary paid work has provoked increased interest in understanding and evaluating the quality of working lives. This Handbook provides critical reflections on recent research in the field, including examining the inextricable links between working life and well-being.
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Irene Hardill and Daniel Wheatley

A lifecourse approach affords researchers the possibility of examining an individual's life history to understand how events influence decisions, including the role of ‘transitions’, e.g. entering paid work, volunteering following retirement, leaving paid work to provide care. In this chapter we reflect on the use of a lifecourse perspective to research time spent in forms of paid and unpaid work, specifically unpaid acts of care and voluntary work, and impacts on well-being. We report on mixed methods research, combining UK data from the English Community Life Survey, British Household Panel Survey/Understanding Society, the British Social Attitudes Survey and qualitative life history interviews derived from an ESRC-funded micro-sociological study. Our findings revealed a range of trade-offs between paid work, unpaid care and volunteering, and well-being effects. This chapter focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of the application of a lifecourse perspective, and mixed method research design drawing on multiple data sources, in increasing our understanding of paid and unpaid work throughout the lifecourse.

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Guja Armannsdottir, Clare Brindley, Carley Foster, Daniel Wheatley and Christopher Pich

This chapter investigates the experiences of female Icelandic marketers and their employment; more specifically why they choose to leave their corporate roles, and the challenges they face when establishing their company. Iceland has been identified as the country with the world’s smallest gender gap, but at the same a time very small proportion of women can be classified as entrepreneurs. Little research has focused on the reason why Icelandic women decide to leave the corporate world and become self-employed. The findings reveal that the financial crisis has affected the majority of these women and their career choices, and that some of these women had no plans to be self-employed for the rest of their working lives. The Icelandic welfare system seems to favour employment, but it also looks like the women themselves prefer the security of employment even though all of them had a positive experience of running their own company.