The purpose of this paper is to link theories on the meaning of work with the meanings participants in a public work scheme attribute to work, in a context of high national and local unemployment and precarious employment.
This study followed a qualitative strategy to allow participants to express their own meanings of work through a work-life history approach. Findings from eight interviews are substantiated by two focus groups and thematically analysed.
Analysis of the findings revealed a high correlation with Kaplan and Tausky’s typology of the meanings of work (1974). The implication of this grounded approach is that this study expands the typology from six to eight factors. In this manner, work in a public work scheme not only has meaning as an economic activity, a structured routine, intrinsic satisfaction, interpersonal experiences, social status and a morally correct activity, but is also gendered and an opportunity for training.
Apart from expanding Kaplan and Tausky’s typology on the meanings of work (1974), this study highlights the added-value of public work schemes, in that, by providing the unemployed with the opportunity to work, they also improve their quality of life in a number of aspects.
The author would like to thank her supervisor Dr Khayaat Fakier at the Stellenbosch University for her guidance and hard work. She was the inspiration for this research and paper and has become a role model to emulate.
Wiltshire, A. (2016), "The meanings of work in a public work scheme in South Africa", International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, Vol. 36 No. 1/2, pp. 2-17. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJSSP-02-2015-0014Download as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited