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 Birkbeck Department 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.
Surviving Work was created 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, London School of Economics, Birkbeck and Mind.
The Surviving Work Library was set up - 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.
During 2015 she write 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.
Elizabeth has carried 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.
Elizabeth 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 International Society for the Psychoanalytic Study of Organizations.
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.
Elizabeth is now writing her next book Surviving Work: How to manage working in healthcare, to be published by Gower in 2016. The book offers an interdisciplinary 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. If you would like to submit anonymous information about working in mental health services please go here www.survivingwork.org/surviving-work-survey.
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.