The study is based on life history interviews with 16 workers aged between 49 and 62 at Volvo’s Torslanda plant. The objective has been to try to understand how workers’ experiences and the ageing process have led them to think, feel and act in the way they do now.
The study reveals that all of them want to retire before 65, preferably at 60 or even earlier. Many of them, particularly the women, also feel physically tired and/or have health problems that reduce their capacity for work. Their working lives have been characterised by subordination that has intensified as they have become older, resulting in mental tiredness.
There are also a number of norms that reinforce their desire to take early retirement. One norm specific to the company consists of the recurrent pension scheme offers, a social norm is that it is considered an entitlement that everyone should have a few years as a healthy pensioner, and a class-related norm is that the workers consider early retirement for those who have had a physically demanding job for many years to be fair.
Despite the desire to take early retirement, they stress how much work has meant to them, and to some extent, how much it still means. They emphasise in particular the sense of community that exists in a workplace, and the experience of continuity that work provides. The relatively well paid work has also provided them with the opportunity to create a good life materially with a sense of pride and dignity.
Since the early 1990s older workers at the Torslanda plant have also been offered the unique opportunity of doing the usual assembly work at the same rate of pay as before, but with a less demands on their performance. These special "senior" posts were gradually phased out in the early 2000s due to rationalisations, which is one reason why it is now more difficult to find suitable jobs for those who need less physically demanding work.
The influence they have in their working lives and the subordination they feel are aspects that contribute to their class affiliation. Björn Ohlsson feels that the sense of vulnerability and impotence is becoming particularly clear now that some two thousand workers at Volvo Cars have been made redundant or forced to leave their jobs in other ways.
The study can also be viewed as an example of the way in which working life is changing in Sweden. The author of the thesis feels that there is a risk that the developments at Volvo in recent years will lead to a form of working life that is not sustainable in the long-term.
- Besides putting some flesh on the bones of the discussion regarding the problem of an ageing population and the way in which working life is changing, I hope that the thesis will produce some understanding for the way in which industrial workers view their working lives, and that there can be ways of thinking other than those that predominate in the media, says Björn Ohlsson.Title of the thesis: We who stayed at Volvo - an ethnological study of senior automobile-industry blue-collar workers’ working-lives and future plans.
Opponent: Professor Anders Björklund, Stockholm, Sweden
Helena Aaberg | alfa
New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg
Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck
On the way to an intelligent laboratory, physicists from Innsbruck and Vienna present an artificial agent that autonomously designs quantum experiments. In initial experiments, the system has independently (re)discovered experimental techniques that are nowadays standard in modern quantum optical laboratories. This shows how machines could play a more creative role in research in the future.
We carry smartphones in our pockets, the streets are dotted with semi-autonomous cars, but in the research laboratory experiments are still being designed by...
What enables electrons to be transferred swiftly, for example during photosynthesis? An interdisciplinary team of researchers has worked out the details of how...
For the first time, scientists have precisely measured the effective electrical charge of a single molecule in solution. This fundamental insight of an SNSF Professor could also pave the way for future medical diagnostics.
Electrical charge is one of the key properties that allows molecules to interact. Life itself depends on this phenomenon: many biological processes involve...
At the JEC World Composite Show in Paris in March 2018, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT will be focusing on the latest trends and innovations in laser machining of composites. Among other things, researchers at the booth shared with the Aachen Center for Integrative Lightweight Production (AZL) will demonstrate how lasers can be used for joining, structuring, cutting and drilling composite materials.
No other industry has attracted as much public attention to composite materials as the automotive industry, which along with the aerospace industry is a driver...
Scientists at Tokyo Institute of Technology (Tokyo Tech) and Tohoku University have developed high-quality GFO epitaxial films and systematically investigated their ferroelectric and ferromagnetic properties. They also demonstrated the room-temperature magnetocapacitance effects of these GFO thin films.
Multiferroic materials show magnetically driven ferroelectricity. They are attracting increasing attention because of their fascinating properties such as...
08.01.2018 | Event News
11.12.2017 | Event News
08.12.2017 | Event News
19.01.2018 | Materials Sciences
19.01.2018 | Health and Medicine
19.01.2018 | Physics and Astronomy