Meaning and Demeaning:Life Accounts on the Worth of Work
Richey, Erin Jo
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Today, work is a lifestyle, not simply a living. Our jobs are much more than a means of putting food on the table; they define our lives and classify us in our society. To take pride in a job is to do work that is both meaningful and worthwhile. It is not easy to labor each day at a tedious task without also being proud of the effort entailed and the results produced. Unfortunately, there are many people who toil long hard hours for little pay. Both young and old members of our society hold working-class jobs that require few skills, provide minimal wages, are void of stimulation, and lack the opportunities for advancement. These workers might face oppression, servitude, and disrespect on the job. However, there is a place for achievement, happiness, and fulfillment in all work. This project explores the occurrence of meaning in working-class jobs. Attributes of job satisfaction and dissatisfaction were defined. To examine aspects of undesirable employment and its value in the economy, a literary analysis was conducted on topics such as occupational and vocational studies, success in work and meaning in vocation, current American workforce trends and effects, and first person accounts from those who have held menial jobs. Aspects that lead to demeaning in the workplace?such as routinized labor, gender and racial stereotypes, and lack of employee control over scheduling and decision-making?were also examined. Personal interviews were conducted to add biographical life-accounts to this research.