Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Research: Dissertation Questions Whether Longer Working Life is Good for Everyone

According to a doctoral thesis written by Björn Ohlsson for the Department of Ethnology, University of Gothenburg, following life history interviews with 16 workers aged between 49 and 62 at Volvo's Torslanda plant, a prolonged working life is not seen as desirable by the workers for three main reasons: health issues brought about through long-term physical labour, especially as regards the women, less motivation caused by a sense of subordination, diminished influence and fewer opportunities at work when ageing, and finally the frequent pension scheme offers by the company.

In "We who stayed at Volvo--an ethnological study of senior automobile-industry blue-collar workers' working-lives and future plans" (and see English summary), Ohlsson reveals that things can be particularly tough for certain groups of industrial workers. This is due to the fact that they have had a long and arduous working life, and that changes in the workplace have resulted in diminished opportunities for older people to stay on. While the thesis reports that all of them want to retire before 65, they stress how much work has meant to them, and to some extent, how much it still means. they emphasize in particular the sense of community that exists in a workplace, and the experience of continuity that work provides. In addition, the relatively well paid work has provided them with the opportunity to create a good life materially with a sense of pride and dignity.

See also Arkipelag, which is publishing the thesis.

Source: University of Gothenburg Press Release (January 20, 2009);

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