The social construction of sleep and work in the British print news media

Pam K. Lowe, Sharon Boden, Simon J. Williams, Clive Seale, Deborah L. Steinberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article presents a sociological study of sleep issues in the British print news media, with particular focus on the relationship between sleep, work and the changing demands of ‘flexible capitalism’. Drawing on over 1000 newspaper articles from 1984 to 2005, we explore how and why sleep is framed or constructed in terms of continuity and change (in British working life and work cultures) and, equally, viewed as a neglected component of our social lives which is too easily sacrificed to the demands of the 24/7 society, long hours culture and the struggle to create a harmonious work-life balance. This is particularly the case for certain British work cultures in which sleep has conflicting and contrasting associations. Finally, we reflect on the broader class-based discourses and debates that arise from certain workers having their sleep patterns increasingly scrutinized and regulated, and the role of the media in any ensuing sleep/work ‘crisis’.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-558
Number of pages18
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2008


  • 24/7 society
  • flexible capitalism
  • media
  • sleep
  • work
  • work cultures
  • work-life balance


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