Notes on stuff

Tagged Posts: Society

Links for 2015-03-25

Bookmarks I’ve shared on 2015-03-25:

Unintended consequences…

…or, what if the things you believe are fundamental to keeping your society together are in some way linked to the negative effects that you see around you?

That might be the sort of question you ask after reading a study published in the Journal of Religion & Society which suggests that a high level of religious belief may harm a society.

As reported in the Times, the study, Cross-National Correlations of Quantifiable Societal Health with Popular Religiosity and Secularism in the Prosperous Democracies looks at data across the first world Western democracies, and examines both the level of overt belief in God / disbelief in evolution and the occurrence of various societal measures such as homicides, early mortality, STDs, teenage pregancy and abortion. The paper finds strong correlations between the general level of religiosity in a society and high levels of these negative measures.

The author is clear that this is an initial study of the correlation between data sets, and does not hypothesise a causal link, however he does include a call to arms for social sicences to examine these issues more closely.

Ironically, the scientific method, which to-date has been shown to be the most effective way of exploring links between events “out there” and putative causes is, I suspect, likely to be the last thing that members of a highly religious society will turn to.

Print version of paper [PDF]

[ via Voidstar]

Working in the Twenty-First Century

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I’ve been reading Working in the Twenty-First Century, which describes itself as an evidenced-based look at the future of work in the UK over the next 20 years by Michael Moynagh and Richard Worsley, published by the Economic and Social Research Council and The Tomorrow Project.

Four main themes emerge from the report:

The British economy will (be forced to) move up the value chain, changing the nature of the jobs that are available. There will be an amplification of the “hourglass effect”, as jobs in the middle disappear, leading to an economy divided between highly-skilled, high-value work and low-paid service workers.

The UK labour market will continue to be tight, squeezing the supply of key skills and leading to attempts to try and boost labour supply. Areas of likely change are an increase in older workers, an increasing reliance on workers from outside the UK and further moves to greater equality of opportunity for women.

The way people will work will be subject to drastic change (for example a huge rise in mobile working, enabled by technology) but there will be less change in the way they are employed – the authors see a majority remaining in full-time employment. The organisations which provide that employment are likely to adopt a range of structures, from the traditional to newer forms such as virtual and networked organisations.

The nature of work and the management-worker relationship will change as new forms of motivation become the norm, at least at the high-value end of the economy. Here the report authors see that companies will be forced to allow greater autonomy and worker empowerment in order to meet the market demand for customised, responsive services. By contrast, companies providing services in the low-wage, low-value, low-skill service areas are unlikely to see the need to take on the cost of more flexible management methods.

There’s a Tomorrow Project event to discuss the book on 6th October – so I should be blogging some more after that.

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