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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An investigation of variables influencing the experience of unemployment for blue collar and white collar workers Feesey, Terrence James


This study was designed to probe the experience of white collar unemployment. Some research results suggest that white collar people have an easier time with unemployment than do blue collar people while other findings suggest the contrary. A questionnaire format instrument was designed to record self-reported changes of an affective and behavioural nature in a sample of 66 white collar and 24 blue collar unemployed adults. It was hypothesized that on the whole, the blue collar sample would report a more difficult response to unemployment than the white collar sample. It was further hypothesized that after an unspecified period of time the unemployed white collar sample would become passive and depressed. Twelve variables focusing on learned helplessness, self-esteem, depression, locus of control, social interaction, time structure, personal meaning and perceived measures of health and finances were recorded and intercorrelated in this relationship study. Correlation matrices were constructed for the general sample, the white collar and the blue collar sub-samples. Reliability and validity coefficients of the instrument were calculated on each variable and were found to be acceptable for the purpose of this study. The relationships among the variables supported the notion that generally, the people in the blue collar unemployed sample experienced more difficulty with unemployment than did those people in the white collar sample. The white collar sample subjects did not, however, show a significant disposition toward passivity and depression as a function of time. Instead, the data suggested the presence of a second white collar subgroup who appeared to be experiencing great personal difficulties regardless of the duration of their unemployment. It was suggested that the appearance of a bi-modal white collar sample was the result of the sampling technique, and further that these results may reflect the state of the real world. This position is offered as a possible justification for the contradictory white collar unemployment findings in the past.

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