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Just Work: The Transformation of Human Labour

Just Work: The Transformation of Human Labour

Theos is embarking on a project which explores and unpacks the ethical principles at stake in our changing economy, and asks what Christian theology might have to offer as we enter this new phase in the history of human labour.

The world of work is being re–shaped before our eyes.  

Even before the COVID–19 pandemic, rapid advances in artificial intelligence and robotics were altering, creating and displacing numerous jobs. ‘Automation anxiety’ is spreading, and the development of new digital platforms has created work that is insecure and irregular, though for a sub–section of the population the ‘gigification’ of the economy has improved access to some kinds of employment. Alongside the impact of ‘high–tech’ there is a growing need for ‘high–touch’ work, reflecting the importance of care at both the beginning and end of life. These roles are often described as ‘low skilled’ but it remains the case that these, and many other kinds of vital work, can only be done by human hands.   

The pandemic is exacerbating many of these changes, uncovering the instability of emerging work patterns and forcing many more people into unemployment. A variety of other factors – mass migration, internal and external pressures to contemporary capitalism, growing inequalities, and expanded state action – are having unpredictable effects in the world of work. Recent months have forced us to change our thinking on work and its place in human flourishing.  

The general tone in the public conversation is that any changes in the labour market are inevitable. We believe, however, that governments, businesses, civil society and private citizens all have some power to shape the world of work for the better – the question is, what is that ‘better’?  

Theos is embarking on a project which explores and unpacks the ethical principles at stake in our changing economy, and asks what Christian theology might have to offer as we enter this new phase in the history of human labour. 

Just Work will launch in the summer of 2021.   


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 Photo by Carl Campbell on Unsplash

Paul Bickley

Paul Bickley

Paul is Research Fellow at Theos. His background is in Parliament and public affairs, and he holds an MLitt from the University of St Andrews’ School of Divinity.

Artificial Intelligence, Capitalism, Economy, Work

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