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Sociology 3308F/G
Kim Shuey

Tausig et. Al; "Social Roles: Worker" Wednesday, January 29, 2014 2:42 PM Tausig, Mark, Janet Michello, and Sree Subedi. 2004. “Social Roles: Worker.” Pp. 80-96 in Tausig, Michello, and Subedi, A Sociology of Mental Illness, 2nd Edition. New Jersey: Pearson. • Work consumes most adults waking hours • How someone feels about work will impact their feelings of well-being • Stressful working conditions led postal workers to kill • Karl marx – work alienating for worker • Worker doesn’t own product of his labor, has no enjoyment in producing it • About 20% of employers dissatisfied with work and employer • Rise of boring, temporary, simple jobs, leads to increased • Investigate work related factors researchers found to lead to stress • Investigate how these factors affect relationship between work and well-being The Economy, Labor Markets, and Distress • Changes in general economy important to many people’s jobs • Economic conditions define labor market in which many people seek, hold, and compare their jobs to other opportunities • Labor market structure affects workers ability to land good jobs • Affect where and whether individuals work • Individual has little or no control over labor market structures • These structures can have dramatic impacts on individuals well being • 1930s depression, some people committed suicide, some men left homes each morning in order to appear they were working to their neighbors • Work role is a central source of identity • Organizer of time, primary source of social interaction • Unemployment related to increase in drinking, physical illness, depression, anxiety, we lose a sense of our selves • Vast majority of job losses are not voluntary • Most are structural labor market job losses • People lose jobs unrelated to their performance or personal characteristics Economic Cycles and Unemployment • Economy goes through a cycle of growth and decline • In decline jobs are lost because employers cannot afford to keep people • Prospects for quick reemployment are lowest • Involuntary unemployment: workers do not have control over basic access to financial and identity security • Rates of physical and mental illness rise and fall with the economy • Even workers who don’t lose jobs have higher stress levels during economic declines Downsizing • Planned reduction of a firms labor force for purposes related to the reduction of labor costs • Significant numbers of people lose long term employment, become victim of labor market • Workers exposed to stressors associated with unemployment Shifts in the Economic distribution of jobs • Reemployment likely erases any short term consequences on worker health • Other factors affect whether a worker will become reemployed • Shift of manufacturing to service industry has been one of the biggest causes of long term job losses • Jobs more widely available often pay lower wages • Displaced worker: someone who has lost a job because business closed or moved, or workers position was eliminated via downsizing • Rarely reemployed in the same jobs at similar rates of pay. Most often un/underemployed • Manufacturing jobs usually are stable, secure, have high job satisfaction, good beneits, and well-being • Service jobs found in smaller less stable firms, no internal labor market, pay and benefits not so good, leads to psychological hardships The Deskilling of Jobs • Systematic reconstruction of jobs so they require fewer skills and management can have more control over workers • Low level skilled jobs are repetitive and demoralizing • Lower skilled jobs justify lower pay • Anyone can do these jobs Temporary and Contingent Jobs • Employers hiring workers on a temporary or contingent basis • Firms maintain that they need a flexible workforce • Cutting down on full time employees cuts down on employees they need to pay benefits • Temp/cont workers are fastest growing segment of the job market • Contingent workers likely to feel distress Job Conditions and Distress • Connection between economy and psychology can be explained through effects of unemployment on stress and likelihood of continued employment on stress • We like work or we don’t, it gives us a sense of well-being or it doesn’t • How we feel about our work is a match between our skills interests and personalities and the characteristics of the work we do • Conditions of work usually the making of the employers, not the worker • Organization of work that affects worker’s health is structural • Demands of work and freedom to meet demands is crucial • Karl marx claims all work in a capitalist economy is alienating but a lot of people report enjoying their jobs • “person-Environment fit” explanation: when individual biologica and psychological characteristics do not match job requirements, workers will be less satisfied with job, feel more alienated, and have more instances of illness • Stress-illness model; characteristics of jobs shown to increases levels of distress felt by wotrkers regardless of psychological or biological make up Job Demands and Decision Lattitude • Most important characteristic of a job is autonomy, has the highest affect on a workers well-being • Amount of work demand, intrinsic interest and complexity of work, employee support, control over others work, and perception of security of one’s job all have important affects on worker’s mental health • Worker who experiences high levels of demands and has little flexibility in meeting these demands is at high risk of developing psychological distress • Inability of worker to find and use good tools necessary to do the job • People do not become distressed by presence of challenge in their work, but by inability to meet the challenge • In factory’s workers rate of activity is determined b
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