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More than a 'humpty dumpty' term : strengthening the conceptualization of soft skills

Hurrell, Scott Alexander and Scholarios, D.M. and Thompson, P. (2013) More than a 'humpty dumpty' term : strengthening the conceptualization of soft skills. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 34 (1). pp. 161-182. ISSN 0143-831X

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Abstract

There is an ongoing sociological debate regarding which work activities can be considered ‘skilled’. In recent years, this debate has become increasingly controversial due to the growing prominence of so-called ‘soft skills’, especially when used in interactive service work. This article seeks to strengthen the conceptualization of soft skills, through case study investigation, to determine whether or not they are worthy of the ‘skilled’ label. An expanded notion of skill is supported, recognizing that in service contexts displaying employer-facilitated worker discretion and requirements for contextual knowledge in the use of soft skills, the term can indeed have real meaning.