For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Social Structure and Personality under Conditions of Radical Social Change: A Comparative Analysis of Poland and Ukraine"

by Kohn, Melvin L; Slomczynski, Kazimierz M; Janicka, Krystyna; Khmelko, Valeri; Mach, Bogdan W; Paniotto, Vladimir; Zaborowski, Wojciech; Gutierrez, Roberto; Heyman, Cory (1997)


[Does the relationship between social structure and personality during times of apparent social stability obtain as well under conditions of radical social change? There are good reasons to think that it might not. To find out, we conducted surveys in Poland and Ukraine during 1992-1993, with dramatic results. In those respects in which the socialist Poland of 1978 had shown a pattern of relationships similar to that of the capitalist United States and Japan (notably, the relationship of social structure to self-directedness of orientation), the pattern remains the same; but where socialist Poland in 1978 had differed from the United States and Japan (notably, in the relationship of social structure to a sense of distress), Poland now fully exemplifies the capitalist pattern. Ukraine seems to be following a similar trajectory, albeit at a slower pace.]

Key Passage

For the dimensions of social structure we consider here-social class and social stratification-the most pertinent conditions are apt to be occupational. Thus, an advanta- geous class position or a high position in the social stratification hierarchy affords greater opportunity to be self-directed in one's work, that is, to work at jobs that are substantively complex, are not subject to close supervi- sion, and are not routinized. The experience of occupational self-direction, in turn, leads to a high valuation of self-direction for one- self and one's children, to greater intellectual flexibility, and to a more self-directed orientation to self and society. (p.614)


Personality, Sociology, Social Psychology, Mental Development, Social Structure, Instability, Social Unrest, Social Change


Kohn-Schooler, Psychological Centrality of Work

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