A qualitative study of the experience of unemployed mid-career adults

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dc.contributor.advisor Prof. G.P. de Bruin en
dc.contributor.author Ribton-Turner, Lynn
dc.date.accessioned 2008-11-12T07:03:17Z
dc.date.available 2008-11-12T07:03:17Z
dc.date.issued 2008-11-12T07:03:17Z
dc.date.submitted 2004-10
dc.identifier.uri http://hdl.handle.net/10210/1611
dc.description D.Litt. et Phil. en
dc.description.abstract Job loss, unemployment and the associated deterioration of mental health are world wide concerns, however, for South Africa with a reported unemployment rate of 33.1% of the economically active population (South African Institute of Race Relations, 2001), it is a crisis of immense proportion. The reason frequently quoted for job loss in the formal sector is the fierce global competition which forces organisations to re-engineer, re-structure, reorganise, realign and inevitably, retrench employees. Reports of these events appear frequently in the media, however, do we understand the cost to the retrenched or unemployed worker in terms of human dignity, family cohesion, physical and mental health, and how this impacts on the social fabric of our society? The present study, using a qualitative methodology, derived from a constructivist paradigm, explores the inner life, the emic perceptions of a sample of eight unemployed participants. The study is strongly contextualised in that the participants are mid-career adults, previously employed in the formal (corporate) sector for more than twenty years of their working life and have been, subsequently, unemployed for six months or longer. The sample included adult men and one woman of Indian and White racial groups; they had all worked within the International Freight, Shipping and Logistics Industries. In addition, from this rich source of information counselling recommendations are offered. These guidelines may be useful (through a process of reconstruction with the client) to promote development, enhance coping skills, and improve the psychological and physical health of the unemployed person. The major theme that emerged from the interviews was of chronic stress and panic as the dislocated worker attempts to survive and cope with decreasing resources; the intrapersonal experiences related were of declining self-esteem, depression, anxiety and loss across all levels of life which are impacted by a major crisis such as unemployment. There is, in addition, the ‘devastating’ effect on family members. The coping behaviour, the resources available to the individual and the coping strategies utilised are discussed. The meaning of work and its contribution to mental health, self-actualisation and self-esteem is indeed defined when work which was taken for granted is no longer available. Job loss and retrenchment will continue in the formal sector as long as globalisation forces South African business organisations to compete in the international arena, however, “before we ruthlessly decide to retrench we must consider human suffering, the potential longer term consequences for this country’s people. We must start to put the human back in this global race” (Swanepoel, 1999, p. 11). Human service interventions based on sound theory and empirical findings are urgently required for the benefit of the unemployed and organisations are encouraged to carry out their social responsibility to their most valuable resource – their employees. Career counsellors have a role to play as change agents for equality, and career interventions such as outplacement programs or counselling services are necessary to address the mental health of the unemployed. en
dc.language.iso en en
dc.subject Counseling of unemployed en
dc.subject Unemployment en
dc.title A qualitative study of the experience of unemployed mid-career adults en
dc.type Thesis en

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