The meaning of work and cultural psychology: Ideas for new directions

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Abstract

Work is one arena in which human beings constitute their identities and participate in collective-cultural enterprises. But research on factors affecting the meaning of work and its outcomes focuses mostly on individual-level variables related to workers’ experience. However, scholars have recently proposed a shift towards a more collective dimension of meaningfulness, in particular, the cultural level. This article discusses and expands on this recent trend, demonstrating how growing attention to cultural factors of work’s meaning raises some problematic, crucial issues about the very definition of culture and its role in meaning-making. A particular issue is the assumption that culture is transmitted to people, that it is primarily a collective endeavour based on shared values and that culture can endow work with meaning. Based on a cultural psychology perspective, we revisit both the relationship between person and culture and the idea of work as a cultural phenomenon. We argue that work is inherently a meaningful activity, mediating between personal and collective culture. We end by proposing some potential new directions to explore.
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Detaljer

Work is one arena in which human beings constitute their identities and participate in collective-cultural enterprises. But research on factors affecting the meaning of work and its outcomes focuses mostly on individual-level variables related to workers’ experience. However, scholars have recently proposed a shift towards a more collective dimension of meaningfulness, in particular, the cultural level. This article discusses and expands on this recent trend, demonstrating how growing attention to cultural factors of work’s meaning raises some problematic, crucial issues about the very definition of culture and its role in meaning-making. A particular issue is the assumption that culture is transmitted to people, that it is primarily a collective endeavour based on shared values and that culture can endow work with meaning. Based on a cultural psychology perspective, we revisit both the relationship between person and culture and the idea of work as a cultural phenomenon. We argue that work is inherently a meaningful activity, mediating between personal and collective culture. We end by proposing some potential new directions to explore.
OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftCulture & Psychology
Volume/Bind24
Tidsskriftsnummer2
Sider (fra-til)135-159
ISSN1354-067X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - 23 maj 2018
PublikationsartForskning
Peer reviewJa
ID: 263338185