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Conceptualising decent work: an explorative study of decent work in England’s Midlands region

Dobbins, Tony; Cao, Xuebing; Green, Anne


Tony Dobbins

Anne Green


Despite an increased focus on the quality as well as quantity of work, conceptualisation of decent work remains underdeveloped. There is no single agreed definition of decent work. The ILO (1999) provides an overarching definition of decent work as ‘productive work for women and men in conditions of freedom, equity, security and human dignity’. This article contributes to conceptual advancement of decent work by compiling a new holistic framework comprising dimensions of decent work, distributive and contributive justice, hard and soft policy regulation, and levels of decent work. Its main aim is to evaluate the suitability of this new conceptual framework for exploring the prognosis on decent work – mainly as a means for informing policy interventions. This is done by applying the framework empirically through analysing evidence collected in the context of the UK’s Midlands region using qualitative research methods, including interviews capturing perspectives from various stakeholders. Limited sub-national devolved policy levers are identified, exacerbated by limited hard regulations nationally supporting decent work/workers’ rights.


Dobbins, T., Cao, X., & Green, A. (2024). Conceptualising decent work: an explorative study of decent work in England’s Midlands region. Policy Studies,

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 7, 2024
Online Publication Date May 16, 2024
Publication Date May 16, 2024
Deposit Date May 9, 2024
Publicly Available Date May 10, 2024
Print ISSN 0144-2872
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Keywords Contributive justice; Decent work; Dignity; Distributive justice; Hard and soft regulation; Job quality; Policy
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