Dr Elizabeth Cotton is a writer and educator working in the field of mental health at work. She teaches and writes academically about employment relations and precarious work, business and management, adult education, solidarity and team working, and mental health at work. She is currently a senior lecturer at Middlesex University Business School and teaches at Birkbeck Department of Management on Comparative Employment Relations. She has developed curricula on resilience for the Vienna University of Economics & Business and is a regular guest lecturer at Cranfield School of Management.
Elizabeth’s background is in workers education and international development. She has worked in over 35 countries on diverse issues such as HIV/AIDS, organising and building grassroots networks, negotiating and bargaining with employers and organisational development. She was Head of Education & Organizing for Industriall, one of the largest trade unions in the world with a membership of 50 million people, an experience reflected in her co-authored book Global Unions Global Business described as “the essential guide to international trade unionism”.
In 2007 she returned to the UK to train in adult psychotherapy at the Tavistock Clinic and worked as an honorary psychotherapist in the NHS.
Elizabeth is an active researcher publishing in 4* journals and is on the Editorial Board of Work, Employment & Society.
Her current research involves a national survey of working conditions of mental health workers. She is currently analysing the results of the survey and interviews which are to be published in 2017. Part of this dissemination will involve the creation of an online map of jobs and working conditions as well as academic publications and public engagement activities.
Elizabeth set up Surviving Work in 2012 to provide online and face to face support and education for frontline workers and activists. This has involved blogging, social media and over 200 educational events and discussions about how to survive work. This has involved national and local level activities for Unison, NUT, TUC, UCU, Tavistock Clinic, British Psychoanalytic Council, Association of Child Psychotherapists, Manchester University, and the London School of Economics. The Surviving Work Library is made of hundreds of anonymous recordings of people’s experiences of surviving work as well as survival guides and eBooks. The Surviving Work blog uses popular language and humour to promote progressive models of mental health at work, psychoanalytic ideas and the politics of work. It has a readership of approximately 20,000 people.
In 2016 Elizabeth created a joint online resource for frontline healthcare workers with the Tavistock and Portman NHS Trust www.survivingworkinhealth.org. The website is made up of videos, podcasts and eGuides on how to do it.
Elizabeth currently edits a column Surviving Work in the UK for the LSE's Business Review which looks critically at the changing nature of work, the growth of precarity and the impact on our states of mind. There are 25 contributors to this column which will culminate in an eBook and a Survival Surgery in 2017, hosted by the LSE's Department of Management.
Elizabeth disseminates her academic research on social media - with regular blogging and articles published in professional and business publications. During 2015 she wrote a bi-monthly column for theconversation.com Battles on the NHS Frontline: Stories from the Vanguard of Health and Social Care, with a readership of 50,000 people.
This has involved carrying out workshops and presentations on mental health at work extensively in the UK including London School of Economics, Birkbeck, UCL, Manchester Business School, Vienna University of Economics & Business, Tavistock Clinic, Tavistock Institute for Human Relations, ISPSO, OPUS, The Photographer’s Gallery, The Freud Museum. She is currently running a project with The Photographer's Gallery in London on the links between psychoanalysis and photography - Thinkers in Residence. To see the project's evolving online archive of recordings and material go here.
She is a member of the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development, British Sociological Association, Association of Psychosocial Studies, Organisation for a Progressive Understanding of Society and the British Sociological Association.
Phd through Publication, 2015
MA Foundation in adult psychodynamic Psychotherapy, 2012, Tavistock Clinic/Essex University
PG Cert Higher Education, 2010 Middlesex University
MA, Philosophy, University College London, 1993 Melhuin Scholarship
BA, Philosophy, University College London, 1989-1992
Elizabeth has worked as an educator for twenty years, using adult education methods in workplace and developing country settings. Her background includes working with trade unions and workers' organisations in building local capacity to improve working conditions.
Elizabeth's UG and PG teaching interests are interdisciplinary, looking at the link between employment relations and mental health. Her particular teaching interests include Comparative Employment Relations and Varieties of Capitalism, International Employment Relations, mental health at work.
Elizabeth created and teaches the first MA module validated by the CIPD on Resilience at Work which includes teaching on decent work, inequalities and social justice to more technical areas such as therapeutic and workplace wellbeing techniques.
Elizabeth is part time at Middlesex and currently teaches Comparative Employment Relations at Birkbeck School of Management and teaches annually at the Vienna University of Economics and Business and Cranfield School of Management.
Elizabeth's next book Surviving Work in Healthcare: Helpful stuff for people on the frontline will be published by Taylor & Francis in the spring of 2017. The book offers an interdisciplinary, practical and realistic framework for frontline managers and workers to manage their working lives.
In 2015 Elizabeth initiated the Surviving Work Survey looking at working conditions in mental health. The results of this national survey will be published in the new year 2017 including an online map of working conditions and a series of academic and practitioner articles for debate within the sector.
Cotton E (2016) In the Union: The psy- chodynamics of solidarity in Morgan D (Ed) The Political Mind: Psychoanalysis and Politics. Routledge's International Library of Psychoanalysis.
Cotton E (2015) Transnational Regulation of Temporary Agency Work: Compromised Partnership between Private Employment Agencies and Global Union Federations. Work, Employment and Society 29 1: 137-153
Altman, Kline, Cotton, Morton & Altman (2015) The City Awakens to the Challenge of Mental Health. People & Strategy 38 1: 47-49
Cotton E & Royle T (2014) Transnational Organising: A case study of contract workers in the Colombian mining industries. British Journal of Industrial Relations 52 4: 705-724
Cotton, Kline & Morton (2013) Following Francis: reversing performance in the NHS from targets to teams. People & Strategy, 36 1:63-65
Cotton E (2013) ‘Regulating precarious work: the hidden role of the Global Union Federations’ in Vulnerable Workers and Precarious Working published by Cambridge Scholars publishing, Series Editors: Tayo Fashoyin and Michele Tiraboschi, guest editors: Malcolm Sargeant and Martina Ori
Croucher R & Cotton E (2013) Case study: AngloAmerican and HIV/AIDS. In Gooderham & Nordhaug International Management: Theory and Practice. Oxford: Blackwell
Cotton E & Gumbrell-McCormick (2012) Global Unions as imperfect multilateral organizations: An international relations perspective. Economic and Industrial Democracy 33 4:707-728
Croucher R and Cotton E (2011) Global Unions Global Business: Global Union Federations and International Business. Second Edition. London: Libri Publishing
Cotton E (2010) ‘CSR and HRM’ in Roper, Prouska & Chatrakulna Ayudhya Critical Issues in Human Resource Management. London: CIPD
Elizabeth has written and edited a series of eBooks which look at issues such as death, love, sex and psychopaths from a psychoanalytic perspective. To view the eBooks go to http://survivingwork.org/4291-2/
Cotton, Elizabeth and Gumbrell-McCormick, Rebecca (2012) Global unions as imperfect multilateral organisations: an international relations perspective. Economic and Industrial Democracy, 33 (4). pp. 707-728. ISSN 0143-831X
Cotton, Elizabeth (2016) Job coaches in GP surgeries: another attempt to pathologise the umemployed. LSE British Politics and Policy Blog .
Cotton, Elizabeth (2016) Deprofessionalised, downgraded and demoralised: why mental healthcare is going backwards. [Digital artefact]
Cotton, Elizabeth (2015) The death detectives. The Photographers' Gallery, The Photographers' Gallery.
Cotton, Elizabeth (2016) Battles on the NHS frontline. Sage, theconversation.com.