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‘Decent Work’ – Historical and Cultural Varieties

Past ideas and present experiences concerning acceptable forms of work are broad and varied. Opposition to slavery, child labour, and long work days vividly illustrate how formerly acceptable notions of labour have changed over time and across cultures, even if none of these forms have been totally abolished. In 1999, in response to the persistence of coercive working conditions around the world, the International Labour Organization (ILO) linked its main institutional goals to a specific definition of ‘decent work’. Though the ILO definition is heavily employed in many political and media debates, the ways in which people define ‘decent’ work vary across societies, and have also changed throughout history.

Editorial team: Andrea Hollington, Tijo Salverda, Nina Schneider, Oliver Tappe