Author Meets Critics: Al James (2017) Work-Life Advantage: Sustaining Regional Learning and Innovation (part of the RGS-IBG Book Series).

Type: Panel
Sponsor Groups: Economic Geography Specialty Group, Geographic Perspectives on Women Specialty Group, Careers and Professional Development
Poster #:
Day: 4/12/2018
Start / End Time: 3:20 PM / 5:00 PM (MDT)
Room: Grand Ballroom D, Sheraton, 5th Floor
Organizers: Al James
Chairs: Chris Benner


Over the last two decades, the desirability and means of achieving an appropriate ‘work-life balance’ (WLB) has received widespread attention from governments, managers, trade unions, academics and the media worldwide. The societal and moral significance of successfully integrating paid work with other meaningful parts of life is profound. However, employers are widely identified as unlikely to implement meaningful WLB arrangements unless they can identify ‘bottom-line’ economic advantages that arise from doing so. Work-Life Advantage takes issue with this so-called ‘business case’ and its negative social consequences for workers and their families. Drawing on 10 years of research with IT workers and firms in the UK and Ireland, it exposes and disrupts a series of widely-held yet highly problematic assumptions within the regional learning and innovation literature. These are rooted in the masculinist myth of the disembodied ‘ideal worker’, for whom work is primary, time available to work unlimited, and the demands of family and personal life insignificant. It also contributes to an holistic regional development agenda, concerned to expand the narrow analytical focus of regional analysis beyond economistic indicators of competitiveness, growth and productivity, also to include gender equity, quality of life, and family well-being. The panel features contributions from leading scholars in feminist, labour and economic geography, with the aim of continuing this conversation and extending this intellectual trading zone in pursuit of a more inter-disciplinary human geography.


Type Details Minutes
Introduction Chris Benner University of California Santa Cruz 10
Panelist Kim England University of Washington 15
Panelist Rikard Eriksson Umea University 15
Panelist Megan Blake 15
Panelist Kendra Strauss Simon Fraser University 15
Panelist Cian O'Callaghan Trinity College Dublin 15
Panelist Al James Newcastle University 15

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