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Title: Alienation, wellbeing & social work
Author: Yuill , Chris
ISNI:       0000 0004 5921 8186
Awarding Body: St George's, University of London
Current Institution: St George's, University of London
Date of Award: 2015
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Alienation theory has been underused in research on workplace and wellbeing. This thesis therefore seeks to apply alienation theory to a study of the wellbeing of social workers. The specific objectives were as follows: 1) to identify potential causes of alienation among social workers who are employed in the public sector. 2) to analyse how those alienating experiences condition the wellbeing of those social workers. 3) to critically assess the utility of alienation theory in researching wellbeing in the workplace. A Marxist methodology was deployed in this research, which sought to analyse critical dynamic and dialectic relations between surface phenomena and deeper structural relations inhered within capitalism. This was achieved by subjecting data to a two-step analysis where data was (1) initially analysed in accordance with standard procedures before (2) incorporating the results from that analysis into a dialectical whole which seeks to identify the network of relations that give rise to surface phenomena. Semi-structured interviews with 16 social workers working in a variety of services provide the empirical basis of the research. The study found instances of historically situated alienation among social workers animated by a series of contradictions in their working lives and in their relations with service users. Those alienating experiences impacted on wellbeing in two related ways. First, the social workers experienced frustration and disillusionment at not being able to enact their professional skills in their work due to a lack of autonomy and control in their working lives. Second, the alienating and contradictory experiences accrued over time led to a 'crash point where wellbeing and health were highly compromised. Overall, the main advantages of applying alienation theory was that guided research into workplace wellbeing that reached beyond limited psychological constructs of stress and instead sought to find causal structural relations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available