For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Worker equality and adult development: the kibbutz as a developmental model"

by Snarey, J; Lydens, L (1990)


Adults' social status, particularly their occupations, is a powerful predictor of their level of moral and ego development. This association's inevitability was tested by examining the relationship of personal development with social status among 3 groups of workers. Results showed that kibbutz workers' moral and ego development were not significantly associated with educational, occupational, or social class standing, but that Israeli city and North American workers' moral and ego development were significantly associated with all measures of social status. In further contrast, work complexity was significantly associated with both moral and ego development only for kibbutz workers, suggesting that they engage in jobs that are appropriate to their psychological development without creating social inequality. Implications for developmental theory and workplace research are considered.

Key Passage

In this study, we tested the universality of this occurrence by comparing two types of kibbutz founders: those who remained and worked on the kibbutz for 30 years, and those who left the kibbutz and moved to cities in Israel or North America, where they worked for a nearly equal length of time. Social class (based on occupation and education) was expected to be significantly associated with moral and ego development for founders who had become workers in the capitalistic economic systems of North America or in the mixed economy of Israel. The work of developmental psychologists (Kohlberg, 1984; Piaget, 1932/ 1965) and workplace sociologists (Blasi, 1977, 1986; Kohn, 1977, 1980), however, suggests that it is questionable whether psychological development would be significantly associated with kibbutz workers' social status. The study's thesis was that the kibbutz workplace could support an individual's psychological development, regardless of the social class characteristics of the work in which she or he was engaged.  (p.86)


Social Status, Development, Psychology, Worker Equality, Class, Developmental Theory, Moral Development


Psychological Centrality of Work

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