For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"On the Personal Consequences of Alienation in Work"

by Seeman, Melvin (1967)


[The consequences of alienation in work (i.e., engagement in work which is not intrinsically rewarding) are examined, using a random sample of the male work force in a Swedish community. The consequences are those commonly attributed to work alienation by critics of modern industrial society: intergroup hostility, anomia, political withdrawal, status seeking, and a sense of powerlessness. The notion that alienated labor eventuates in such outcomes receives little support here; the evidence suggests that this failure to confirm the "generalization hypothesis" is not attributable to methodological difficulties. The influence of social factors crucial to mass society theory (e.g., membership in an occupational community or in a work organization) is examined and found to be minimal. Finally, an alienated (extrinsic) orientation toward work is also unrelated to such variables as ethnic hostility, political engagement and powerlessness. The significance of these negative findings for images of work in contemporary society is discussed.]


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