"If I Don’t Have to Work Anymore,Who Am I?": Job Loss and Collaborative Self-Concept Repair

Previous research on unemployment among managers and professionals has documented the experience of job loss as stressful because of both economic strain and the damage it does to valued identities and self-conceptions. Little research, however, has examined the processes through which displaced workers collectively attempt to repair this damage. Data from participant observation in four support groups, plus intensive interviews with twenty-two group members, are used to develop an analysis of the self-concept repair strategies used by these relatively privileged workers. Five main strategies are identified: (1) redefining the meaning of unemployment, (2) realizing accomplishment, (3) restructuring time, (4) forming accountability partnerships, and (5) helping others.These findings suggest that our understandings of how people cope with stressful life events need to take into account the social capital available to different groups. A second implication concerns our understanding of how the self-concept operates as a source of motivation.

Source: http://jce.sagepub.com/cgi/content/abstract/38/5/547

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