The interplay between structure and agency in shaping the mental health consequences of job loss
Newman, Lareen Ann
Ziersch, Anna Marie
Jolley, Gwyneth Margaret
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Main themes that emerged from the qualitative exploration of the psychological distress of job loss included stress, changes to perceived control, loss of self-esteem, shame and loss of status, experiencing a grieving process, and financial strain. Drawing on two models of agency we identified the different ways workers employed their agency, and how their agency was enabled, but mainly constrained, when dealing with job loss consequences. Respondents’ accounts support the literature on the moderating effects of economic resources such as redundancy packages. The results suggest the need for policies to put more focus on social, emotional and financial investment to mediate the structural constraints of job loss. Our study also suggests that human agency must be understood within an individual’s whole of life circumstances, including structural and material constraints, and the personal or interior factors that shape these circumstances.