Dissertation Abstracts

Formation of Work Values: Social Origins, Education and Occupation

Author: Mihai, Oana G, ogmiha@essex.ac.uk
Department: Institute for Social and Economic Research
University: University of Essex, United Kingdom
Year of completion: In progress
Language of dissertation: English

Keywords: work values , intergenerational tr , cross-national analysis , structural equations
Areas of Research: Stratification , Work , Social Classes and Social Movements


The present study is concerned with identifying the main factors that shape an individual’s work values. Based on the tenets of status attainment theory (Warren, Sheridan, & Hauser, 2002) and the principal division of work values used in previous research – extrinsic-intrinsic, it will be argued that parental socio-economic status and educational level, together with the individual’s status and educational attainment represent the leading sources of variation in work values. More specifically, adults from privileged backgrounds are more intrinsically oriented, while those from less affluent and less educated families display proneness towards extrinsic work values. Education is also positively associated with work values, with higher education engendering intrinsic work values, and fewer years of education most likely to increase extrinsic orientations. Moreover, it will be shown that the difference in work values is not driven by ongoing economic considerations, since income has only an indirect effect on intrinsic work values, mediated by socio-economic status, and no effect on extrinsic work values. This suggests that income per se is perceived differently by adults with distinct work values, and that this divergence can be linked to social origins. Lastly, following previous analyses that have confirmed both status attainment theory and the extrinsic-intrinsic work values dimension separately in various cultural contexts, this article will evaluate the validity of the proposed model cross-nationally. The comparative analysis is motivated by the intention to test whether the same process of work values formation is similar in different countries, which if true, would strengthen the evidence for the hypothesised model.

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