Challenges and Opportunities
Edited by Ronald J. Burke, Cary Cooper and Alexander-Stamatios Antoniou
Chapter 2: Unemployment in the digital age
It comes as a surprise to many that it is work psychologists who most often study unemployment. They do so predominantly because it is argued that the experience of unemployment tells us a great deal about the nature of work. That is, it is not having work that gives us a considerable understanding of the benefits, and sometimes the drawbacks, of work. The unemployed and the underemployed are deprived of the benefits of work, though it becomes important to differentiate between good/healthy/beneficial work and bad/stressful/unhealthy work. More importantly it is paramount to understand how the world of work is changing and what impact this may have on the next generation. Most types of paid, structured, official work, it is suggested, are good for you. There are multiple benefits of being employed. Work provides a source of income, stimulation and identity as well as social support. Jobs give meaning and a purpose to life and they allow people to discover and exploit their talents. There are clearly good jobs that provide both intrinsic and extrinsic factors and bad jobs that do not. Indeed, it has been suggested that the stress and deprivation associated with a bad job may indeed be worse than having no job at all. There is, of course, something of a tautology in this: good jobs by definition bring benefits and bad jobs do the opposite. The central question is the nature of the mechanism or process that defines good and bad jobs.
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