Date range
11 March 2019, 10:00am to 11 March 2019, 12:00pm
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Over their lifetime, the average person spends more than 90,000 hours at work, and nearly 60% of UK managers say their jobs are making them insomniacs (Business Insider, August 2018).

Join us at Cumberland Lodge on 11 and 12 March 2019 for our roundtable, residential conference to explore how identities based on work are transforming in an age characterised by precariousness, digitalisation, frequent job changes and meaningless labour.

Working Identities will bring together union representatives, working rights campaigners, academics, non-governmental organisations, policymakers and practitioners to discuss developments that are changing the role and significance of work in people’s lives and wider society.

Conference briefing

Open an e-book of our interdisciplinary Conference Briefing by freelance Research Associate, Dr Eva Selenko, here.


Sessions will explore themes and topics such as:

  • The weakening of work-based identities

  • Uncertainty and precarious work

  • How artificial intelligence is changing the way we work

  • Identity and unemployment.

The programme also includes breakout sessions and discussions on age, race, gender and religion in the workplace.


Paul Beard, Area Director (South East office), Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

Dr Brendan Burchell, Reader in the Social Sciences, University of Cambridge

Professor Geoffrey Evans, Sociology of Politics, University of Oxford

Professor Ursula Huws, Global Work and Employment, University of Hertfordshire

Baroness McGregor-Smith CBE, Race in the Workplace: The McGregor-Smith Review (2017)

Frances O'Grady, General Secretary, Trade Union Congress

Professor Jacqueline O'Reilly, Professor of Comparative Human Resource Management, University of Sussex

Celestin Okoroji, Cumberland Lodge Fellow based in the Department of Psychological and Behavioural Science, LSE

Sietske van der Ploeg, Head of Portfolio Performance and Social Impact, Mayor's Fund for London

Tamanda Walker, Cumberland Lodge Fellow and Independent Consultant on Religion and Belief in the Workplace

Dr Alex Wood, Researcher, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford

Dr Wanda Wyporska, Executive Director, The Equality Trust

Working Identities

For much of our history, work has given people a sense of identity. Surnames such as Miller, Smith, Mason, Thatcher, or Fisher demonstrate the relevance of labour in how people used to categorise and identify themselves, as well as one another.

In the 18th Century, alongside the expansion of the industrial working classes, unions and other organisations began to shape a stronger sense of belonging around employment and the workplace. Since then, the connection between work, identity, and belonging has been a central feature of human social life. But how has this changed with ongoing and increasing mechanisation, deregulation and deindustrialisation?

Annual series

Our 2018-19 series of conferences, consultations, seminars, workshops and retreats is on the theme of  ‘Identities & Belonging’. We are addressing pressing social and political issues through a multidisciplinary exploration of increasingly fluid identities and visions of belonging, in 21st-century Britain and beyond.

This event examines identities and belonging by exploring the relevance of history for the production of meaningful contemporary identities and feelings of belonging.


Attendance at some of our events is by 'invitation only' because places are limited, and we aim to ensure a balanced and diverse representation of backgrounds and perspectives to enhance the quality of our dialogue and debate.

To register an interest in any of the events taking place, please contact our Programme Department at or call 01784 497796.


Student bursary applications have now closed.