Get off the bus : a study of redundancy amongst older workers in Palmerston North : a thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts

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Massey University
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This thesis sets out to examine the experience of redundancy as it effected the lives of a small sample of older workers when they were laid off from their industrial site. The study begins by highlighting the extent to which previous research into the personal consequences of losing a job has to a large measure been limited because of a strong tradition of dualism within sociology. More specifically, the tensions and struggles of individuals as they endeavour to cope with the upheavals of suddenly finding themselves without a job have been divided into two schools of thought Either, autonomous, voluntary (freely choosing), vulnerable older workers have been portrayed as struggling against, or determined by an oppressive 'system', or redundancy has been subjectively interpreted from the point of view of the actor where autonomy once more or having 'choices' is the defining characteristic of research. These theoretical constructions wherein social life has been polarized into one of two 'camps' of thought are challenged by this thesis. I argue that the result has been to marginalise, or neglect the very construction of subjectivity by previous researchers when investigating this subject. This study is presented against the background of worsening economic conditions for a large number of citizens, escalating unemployment and the creation of a 'flexible' labour market in New Zealand after 1984 These conditions have led to far reaching and in many cases cruel changes in the working environment for those fortunate enough to be there. My argument draws upon the deconstructionism of Michel Foucault to put forward a more adequate sociological appreciation of the processes occurring during redundancy. By focusing on the relationship between power and subjectivity and utilising such an approach I hope to make visible and explain certain critical issues of control and dependency. This will show how subtle manipulations have a determining influence on the lives of the long serving employees at Zenith prior to, during and after they lost their jobs.
New Zealand -- Palmerston North, Unemployed, Social aspects