Drawing on the emerging field of narrative theory in sociology and psychology, this book argues that an individual’s response to job loss is a product of the shape of the story a person tells about their experience. This, in turn, is a product of both individual creativity and the structuring effects of their social location. Based on a qualitative study of the experience of unemployment in Australia, three main types of job loss narratives are identified. First, romantic narratives describe job loss as a positive experience of liberation from an oppressive job, leading to a gradually improving future. Second, tragic narratives describe job loss as undermining a person’s life plan, leading to a phase of depression, anxiety and self-deprecation. Finally, job loss narratives may be complicated by marital breakdown or serious illness. The book breaks new ground in its use of narrative theory to account for the variations in responses to unemployment.
'…this book makes a valuable contribution to the unemployment literature on both theoretical and empirical grounds, providing a wealth of insights into the lived experience of unemployment. It also adds weight to research using biographical and narrative data to explore the experiential dimensions of social disadvantage.' Network (Newsletter of the British Sociological Association) 'This book is useful and informative, providing some very interesting and insightful narratives that assist in understanding the positive and negative experiences of job loss…I am sure this book will be a valuable resource for anyone interested in an occupational perspective of employment and unemployment.' Journal of Occupational Science 'Read this book, not because it will provide you with radically new insights into the experience of being unemployed, but because it reveals that although the narratives through which the unemployed processually construct and re-construct their life-stories are, as yet, largely unexplored, the route to this exciting territory has been sign-posted.' Journal of Industrial Relations
Contents: Introduction; Unemployment and mental health: a critical review; A narrative theory of unemployment; Job loss as a romance; Job loss as a tragedy; Tragic unemployment; Complex job loss; Unemployment and the meaning of working; Conclusion; Appendix; Bibliography; Index.