“Pretending to analyze the relationship to work through the prism of age or generations is very questionable”

“Pretending to analyze the relationship to work through the prism of age or generations is very questionable”

Ihe idea that “young people no longer want to work” or that they “value work less than their elders” is currently flourishing. If this remark joins the eternal refrains on “the young people of today” who are never as they should be, the questioning of the (de) valuation of work raises real questions vis-à-vis young people as vis-à-vis -to work and employment.

Who are “young” whose relation to work we claim to describe: 18-25 year olds, 15-30 year olds? Do people stop being young at a given age, when they leave their initial education, when they leave their parental home – which varies according to time and country?

Moreover, to speak of “the” youth leads to essentializing this social group when it is not ****geneous. The life of young people differs according to their origins and family situations, their economic means, their places and housing conditions, their school curriculum, their cultural capital, their friendly and neighborhood networks.

Differences in levels and lifestyles

These social differences influence the ways of interpreting what we experience and of representing our social environment. They affect what is important, good and right in general, and at work in particular. Claiming to analyze the relationship to work through the prism of age or generations is therefore highly debatable.

If the members of a generation share a few tastes (clothing, music, cooking, etc.), differences in levels and lifestyles, differences in socialization (in family or at school, then at the start of life active) matter far more than what is common to them. Inequalities affect in particular education and professional positions, which in turn influence what everyone knows and thinks about work and can expect from it.

Also read the survey: Article reserved for our subscribers The relationship of young people to work, a silent revolution

As for their elders, young people’s relationship to work is a social construct affected by their place in society and by their life course, a construct that varies with social differences. The duration of studies and the diplomas obtained – which we know are correlated with social origins – are the main factors conditioning the beginnings of working life in terms of qualification, path to integration, exposure to unemployment and precariousnessrecruitment, quality of jobs held, job content, type of contract and remuneration.

The positions occupied and hoped for in the workplace affect the possibilities of fulfilling oneself there or the risks of suffering from it, and this greatly influences the view of young people (as well as those not so young) on ​​the importance and valuation of work.

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