Construction workers' reactions to structural alienation and inequality

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Title: Construction workers' reactions to structural alienation and inequality
Author: Robinson, Robert
Advisors: L Richard Della Fave, Chair
Risa Ellovich, Member
Randall Thomsom, Member
Abstract: Using a participant observation approach, this study documents specific examples of structural alienation in the lifeworlds of 35 residential construction workers (in North Carolina and Virginia) who perform finish work--such as painting and floor refinishing--on expensive houses. It includes a look at what these workers think about the inequalities that they see and help to create within the society. Despite the fact that they get to see how some of the richest individuals in this society live, the workers in this study believe in the legitimacy of inequality and in the premise of the equity principle--that individuals deserve unequal rewards depending upon how much they produce within the society. There were a number of ways that the workers coped with the structural alienation and relative deprivation that they experienced on the job. Many of these workers experienced economic conditions where they were just trying to survive and they mainly focused their attention on this aspect of their lives. Other ways that they coped included attempting to maximize their position within the status hierarchy of the job, exhibiting pride in their work and craft skills, and focusing their attention on what they were doing when they were not working--such as interacting with family, friends, and members of their status groups who share common consumption patterns with themselves.
Date: 2001-04-20
Degree: MS
Discipline: Sociology

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