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

Kohn (1977) demonstrated that the primary psychological impact of a job results not from the status attached to the job, the income earned, the work relationships formed, or whether one works with things, data, or people, but rather from mastering complex tasks. According to Kohn, the substantive intellectual complexity of work is central to the psychological impact of work. He noted that variations in work complexity cut across social classes; a blue-collar automobile factory employee's work with things (e.g., setting up), data (e.g., diagnosis and testing), or people (e.g., mentoring) potentially may be as complex as a white-collar university employee's work with things (e.g., engineering), data (e.g., research), or people (e.g., counseling). (p.87)


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


Psychological Centrality of Work

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