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Orderly Careers and Social Participation: The Impact of Work History on Social Integration in the Middle Mass

Harold L. Wilensky
American Sociological Review
Vol. 26, No. 4 (Aug., 1961), pp. 521-539
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2090251
Page Count: 19
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Orderly Careers and Social Participation: The Impact of Work History on Social Integration in the Middle Mass
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Abstract

Durkheim's and Mannheim's ideas about careers as a source of social integration are put to the test among 678 urban white males of the upper-working and lower-middle classes, aged 21-55. Data suggest that chaotic experience in the economic order fosters a retreat from both work and the larger communal life. Even a taste of an orderly career enhances the vitality of participation: compared with men who have chaotic work histories, those who spend at least a fifth of their worklives in functionally-related, hierarchically-ordered jobs have stronger attachments to formal associations and the community. Their contacts with kin, friend, and neighbor are at once more integrated, wide-ranging, and stable. Their "occupational community" is stronger. These contrasts are especially marked among young, high-income college men--a vanguard population. Although men with work histories that fit the model of "career," comprise only a tiny slice of the labor force in modern societies, they may be strategic for social order.

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