Journal of Community & Applied Social Psychology

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Volume 4 Issue 2 (May 1994), Pages fmi-fmi, 77-144

Unemployment and self‐conception: A symbolic interactionist analysis (pages 115-129)


A symbolic interactionist analysis of the relationship between unemployment and self‐conception was tested using a cross‐sectional questionnaire design (n = 88). Job loss had significant negative associations with reflected appraisals (perceived evaluations) from friends, family, employers, unemployed people and people in general. Significant relationships between reflected appraisals and the evaluative, consistency and involvement dimensions of self‐concept were also observed. Consistent with symbolic interactionist theory, path analysis showed that reflected appraisals mediated the relationship between employment status and self‐conception. Unemployment duration and gender both moderated the effects of reflected appraisal upon self‐conception such that reflected appraisals were associated with different self‐concept dimensions for unemployed men versus unemployed women and ‘shorter’ versus ‘longer‐term’ unemployed people. Results are discussed in the context of recent developments in the social psychology of the self‐concept. Suggestions for future research are outlined.

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