Only fools? Reconsidering the relationship between commitment to the work ethic and educational attainment

Dunn, Andrew (2013) Only fools? Reconsidering the relationship between commitment to the work ethic and educational attainment. Journal of Education and Work, 26 (1). pp. 1-20. ISSN 1363-9080

Full content URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/13639080.2011.588595

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Abstract

This article argues that work ethic research has suffered from a tendency
to conflate preference and morality, and that this has been particularly
detrimental to our understanding of the relationship between commitment
to the work ethic and educational attainment. The work ethic is
almost always measured quantitatively, yet in-depth research offers a fuller
understanding of individuals’ moral beliefs and motivations, and it
can provide possible explanations for the very different results established
by the various quantitative measures. Findings from 50 in-depth
interviews offered support to those who claim that work morality is largely
a ‘wealth ethic’ – about not being dependent upon state benefits.
Education strongly influenced moral beliefs. Crucially, while the more
educated were the least likely to moralise in favour of work or the
‘wealth ethic’ and most disliked lower status employment, they could
expect to score highly on measures of the work ethic that emphasise
preference rather than morality because their education usually secured
them enjoyable ‘career’ jobs. Furthermore, the fact that preferences play
such an important part in work ethic measurement might help explain
the discrepancy between theoretical claims of a declining work ethic and
empirical studies which demonstrate that it is thriving.

Additional Information:First published on: 14 June 2011
Keywords:work ethic, PWE, Employment commitment, Education, Weber
Subjects:L Social studies > L300 Sociology
Divisions:College of Social Science > School of Social & Political Sciences
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ID Code:9179
Deposited On:25 Apr 2013 19:47

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