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Graduate WorkSkills, Credentials, Careers, and Labour Markets$
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Gerbrand Tholen

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198744481

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198744481.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 23 October 2021

The Contested Nature of Graduate Labour

The Contested Nature of Graduate Labour

(p.14) 2 The Contested Nature of Graduate Labour
Graduate Work

Gerbrand Tholen

Oxford University Press

This chapter assesses the dominant understanding of what graduate labour is. This continues to influence how we currently understand the work that graduates perform, their status, and the role of higher education in the economy. The chapter outlines the discourse on modern capitalism and in particular the knowledge economy and explains how it changed our vision of the graduate labour market. Contemporary society is portrayed as ever more complex, differentiated, and dependent on specialized knowledge. As a result graduate workers are understood to have a special place within the economy and labour market and their skills and abilities to be crucial for economic development. The chapter then contrasts these ideas with academic contributions criticizing the main assumptions of the knowledge-based economy discourse. Yet despite these contributions, the dominant discourse has not been fundamentally changed or been fundamentally challenged within the public domain.

Keywords:   knowledge economy, capitalism, graduates, graduate labour, skill demand

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