Centre for Sustainable Working Life | Sustainable Working Life
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Sustainable Working Life

The concept of sustainable working life is relatively new, although already subject to growing interest at the scientific, professional and governmental levels. In October 2009, the Swedish EU Presidency organised a conference on Sustainable Work – A Challenge in Times of Economic Crises giving recognition to the importance of this subject area and helping to define its scope.

The Conference was opened by Kenneth Abrahamsson, Swedish Council for Working Life and Social Research, with an Opening Address by  Jorma Karppinen, European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The Conference dealt with a wide range of issues at both the research and policy levels (see Box 1). The common ground shared by these difference issues, levels of concern and perspectives serves to define sustainable working life despite the narrower title of the conference. Such a definition provides a framework for the development of the new Centre allowing an appeal to research interests across the different departments of the School and the wider College. A more precise definition, while possible, risks unhelpfully narrowing the appeal of the new centre and unnecessarily restrict its research and related portfolios.

Within applied psychology, a cursory literature review will reveal that the interest in sustainable working life focuses on five issues:

  • the impact of ageing on work and working life;
  • the design and management of safe and healthy systems of work with some emphasis on safety culture;
  • work-life balance with an interest in gender issues;
  • psychosocial risk management in the design and management of work, and;
  • the interaction among chronic health challenges, health and social care provision and work.

The new Centre is currently involved in most of these areas.

Centre for Sustainable Working Life
Birkbeck University of London
Room 210,
Clore Management Centre
Malet Street,
London WC1E 7HX
Email: cswl@bbk.ac.uk