Towards a middle-range theory of mental health and well-being effects of employment transitions: Findings from a qualitative study on unemployment during the 2009-2010 economic recession.

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Giuntoli, G ; Hughes, S ; Karban, K ; South, J (2015)
  • Publisher: Sage

This article builds upon previous theoretical work on job loss as a status passage to help explain how people's experiences of involuntary unemployment affected their mental well-being during the 2009-2010 economic recession. It proposes a middle-range theory that interprets employment transitions as status passages and suggests that their health and well-being effects depend on the personal and social meanings that people give to them, which are called properties of the transitions. The analyses, which used a thematic approach, are based on the findings of a qualitative study undertaken in Bradford (North England) consisting of 73 people interviewed in 16 focus groups. The study found that the participants experienced their job losses as divestment passages characterised by three main properties: experiences of reduced agency, disruption of role-based identities, for example, personal identity crises, and experiences of 'spoiled identities', for example, experiences of stigma. The proposed middle-range theory allows us to federate these findings together in a coherent framework which makes a contribution to illuminating not just the intra-personal consequences of unemployment, that is, its impact on subjective well-being and common mental health problems, but also its inter-personal consequences, that is, the hidden and often overlooked social processes that affect unemployed people's social well-being. This article discusses how the study findings and the proposed middle-range theory can help to address the theoretical weaknesses and often contradictory empirical findings from studies that use alternative frameworks, for example, deprivation models and 'incentive theory' of unemployment.
  • References (4)

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    Directgov. (2011) Jobseekers. Available at: http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/Employment/Jobseekers/index.htm.

    Welch S, Brugha T, King M, et al. (2011) Mental well-being and mental illness: Findings from the Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey for England 2007. The British Journal of Psychiatry 199: 23-28.

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