In a recent paper, Hartley and Cooper reviewed the available studies of redundancy using a psychological framework and came to the conclusion that insufficient systematic work had so far been done ‘to assess the impact of the phenomenon on the psychological state of the redundant worker, his family and the wider community’. This lack of examination of redundancy from a psychological approach was a state which Hartley and Cooper felt should be remedied. And, in the title of their paper, they pose an implicit question by the inclusion of a question mark — ‘Redundancy: a psychological problem?’. Yet, as Wood notes, there is in fact little specification of either the potential or reported psychological effects of redundancy. Hartley and Cooper document the reported impact of redundancy in terms of the various stages of the process and note that most studies have tended to concentrate on the period of unemployment following the loss of the job rather than on the period previous to the redundancy. A number of these studies, they note, have been attitudinal, describing the feelings of the affected population, or a sub‐sample, towards a number of relevant issues, most notably the redundancy itself. While they consider that the issue of redundancy has been studied from the viewpoints of both labour economics and sociology, Hartley and Cooper are more concerned to highlight the lack of concern displayed so far by psychologists. They quote the study of the closure of a steel works by Warr and Lovatt, in which psychological wellbeing was singled out for examination and was found to be associated with length of time unemployed. This study is, however, exceptional in the emphasis placed on the psychological effects of redundancy. Hartley and Cooper go on to comment on the central place given in previous studies to the job search process, both in terms of attitudes and behavioural patterns. From job search, attention is directed to a review of the studies of the unemployed in general as opposed to the redundant in particular. Attention is drawn throughout the paper to the lack of concern shown to date with the examination of redundancy as a psychological problem.
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