The Many Futures of Work

Rethinking Expectations and Breaking Molds

Edited by Peter A. Creticos, Larry Bennett, Laura Owen, Costas Spirou, and Maxine Morphis-Riesbeck, with a Foreword by Peter Georgescu
Book Cover

PB: $38.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2144-9
Publication: Oct 21

HC: $115.50
EAN: 978-1-4399-2143-2
Publication: Oct 21

Ebook: $38.95
EAN: 978-1-4399-2145-6
Publication: Oct 21

396 pages
6 x 9
14 tables, 23 figs.

Reframes the conversation about contemporary workplace experience by providing both “top down” and “bottom up” analyses

Read the Introduction (PDF).


What will work eventually look like? This is the question at the heart of this timely collection. The editors and contributors—a mix of policy experts, academics, and advocates—seek to reframe the typical projections of the “future” of work. They examine the impact of structural racism on work, the loss of family‑sustaining jobs, the new role of gig work, growing economic inequality, barriers to rewarding employment such as age, gender, disability, and immigration status, and the business policies driving these ongoing challenges.

Together the essays present varied and practical insights into both U.S. and global trends, discuss the role of labor activism in furthering economic justice, and examine progressive strategies to improve the experience of work, wages, and the lives of workers. The Many Futures of Work offers a range of viable policies and practices that can promote rewarding employment and steer our course away from low-wage, unstable jobs toward jobs that lead to equitable prosperity and economic inclusion.

Contributors: Eileen Appelbaum, Jonathan Barr, Eric Harris Bernstein, Susanne M. Bruyère, Oscar A. Chacón, Thomas Croft, William A. Darity Jr., Peter Georgescu, James Bau Graves, Darrick Hamilton, Stephen Herzenberg, Saru Jayaraman, Martin Kenney, William Lazonick, Christopher Mackin, Karen E. Maguire, Annie Malhotra, Patrick L. Mason, Chris Mathieu, Ruth Milkman, Michelle Miller, Phyllis Moen, Rob Paral, Amy Shannon, Devan Shea, Chris Warhurst, Sally Wright, John Zysman, and the editors


“Nothing in a modern economy is more important than work. I emphasize this because some have long believed maximizing shareholder value is paramount. During modern times, wages have stagnated and work has become insecure. The Many Futures of Work is one of the most important books published in recent years because it addresses the multiple interrelated aspects of work—not only remuneration but also equality, individual fulfillment, job security, careers, and worker power. It offers a variety of constructive approaches and discards the blind economic prejudice that short-term profit is all that matters. Bravo to the editors and the contributors.”
Jeff Madrick, author of Seven Bad Ideas: How Mainstream Economists Have Damaged America and the World

The Many Futures of Work offers a much-needed holistic perspective on automation and the gig economy. The examination of labor market disparities, biases in business governance and investment, new forms of labor organizing, and policy impediments and opportunities is significant. Featuring leading academics, investors, organizers, and policymakers, this volume provides multiple perspectives on what is new in the future of work and what is not, from the gig jobs of musicians to where many futures of work discussions fall short in understanding race and ethnicity, gender, immigrant status, and disability. The Many Futures of Work cogently argues that different choices about the future of work must involve ambitious policies and changing business investment and governance practices. It is a necessary and valuable ambition.”
Robert P. Giloth, Vice President of the Center for Economic Opportunity at the Annie E. Casey Foundation, and author of Workforce Intermediaries for the Twenty-first Century

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword by Peter Georgescu

Introduction: Achieving the Promise of Work / Peter A. Creticos

1 Preparing for the Future of Work in Regions and Cities / Jonathan Barr and Karen E. Maguire
2 Gender and the U.S. Labor Market: Change and Continuity / Ruth Milkman
3 The Futures of Work and People with Disabilities / Susanne M. Bruyère
4 Are Immigrants Underskilled, or Are Their Jobs Underskilled? / Rob Paral
5 Structural Racism and Stratification: Understanding Racial Inequality in the American Workforce / Patrick L. Mason

6 What’s Behind the Increase in Wage Inequality? / Eileen Appelbaum
7 The Investment Triad and Sustainable Prosperity / William Lazonick
8 Intersections and Barriers: Economic Justice and the Futures of Work in Our Hemisphere / Oscar A. Chacón and Amy Shannon

9 The Original Gig Economy / James Bau Graves
10 Vorsprung durch Technik: The Futures of Work, Digital Technology, and the Platform Economy / Chris Warhurst, Chris Mathieu, and Sally Wright
11 Entrepreneurial Finance in the Platform Economy Era: What Consequences for Labor? / Martin Kenney and John Zysman

12 One Fair Wage: The Only Just Way Forward / Saru Jayaraman and Devan Shea
13 Hatching Labor’s Phoenix: Sparking Mass Union Organizing in the United States / Stephen Herzenberg
14 New Frontiers of Worker Power: Challenges and Opportunities in the Modern Economy / Michelle Miller and Eric Harris Bernstein

15 Bending the Futures and Meanings of Work, Careers, and Life-Course Pathways / Phyllis Moen
16 Commonwealth Companies: A Path to Restore Workers’ Rights and Economic Democracy / Thomas Croft and Annie Malhotra
17 Property Not Pay: Restoring the Middle through Ownership / Christopher Mackin
18 An Authentic “Right to Work” / William A. Darity Jr. and Darrick Hamilton

Conclusion: Moving from “The Many Futures of Work” to “Achieving the Promise of Work” / Peter A. Creticos

Editors and Contributors

About the Author(s)

Peter A. Creticos is President and Executive Director of the Institute for Work and the Economy. In Fall 2020, Peter was appointed to the Equity Task Force of the Illinois Workforce Innovation Board (IWIB). He is also a member of the Economic Development advisory committee for the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning. Peter has managed several projects includes studies on apprenticeship, economic development in the Midwest, the integration of immigrants in the workforce, and professional licensing of skilled immigrants. He coauthored a chapter in Latinos in Chicago: Reflections of an American Landscape. He also coauthored Manufacturing in the United States, Mexico, and Central America, Implications for Competitiveness and Migration and was a contributor to OECD Territorial Reviews: Puebla/Tlaxcala, Mexico, 2013.

Larry Bennett is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at DePaul University, and from 2017 to 2018 served as interim Executive Director of North Branch Works, a nonprofit neighborhood economic development organization in Chicago. He is the coeditor of Neoliberal Chicago, author of The Third City: Chicago and American Urbanism, and the coeditor of Temple University Press’s Urban Life, Landscape, and Policy book series.

Laura Owen is Associate Professor of Economics at DePaul University. Her work has appeared in various journals, including The Journal of Economic History, Review of Social Sciences, and Labor History.

Costas Spirou is Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Georgia College & State University, where he is also Professor of Sociology and Public Administration. Most recently, he is the author of Anchoring Innovation Districts: The Entrepreneurial University and Urban Change and coauthor of Building the City of Spectacle: Mayor Richard M. Daley and the Remaking of Chicago. He is editor of the Johns Hopkins University Press Higher Education and the City book series.

Maxine Morphis-Riesbeck is an independent scholar. She served previously as visiting faculty for the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership (MAOL) program at Lewis University and the Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership at North Central College. Currently, she is a consultant specializing in process analysis, communications, and training. Her work has appeared in the International Journal of Applied Philosophy.