Friday, 4 January 2013

Not all that it might seem: why job satisfaction is worth studying despite it being a poor summary measure of job quality

an article by Andrew Brown and David A Spencer (University of Leeds, UK) and Andy Charlwood (University of York, UK) published in Work Employment & Society Volume 26 Number 6 (December 2012)


Interest in data on job satisfaction is increasing in both academic and policy circles.

One common way of interpreting these data is to see a positive association between job satisfaction and job quality. Another view is to dismiss the usefulness of job satisfaction data, because workers can often express satisfaction with work where job quality is poor.

It is argued that this second view has some validity, but that survey data on job satisfaction and subjective well-being at work are informative if interpreted carefully. If researchers are to come to sensible conclusions about the meaning behind job satisfaction data, information about why workers report job satisfaction is needed. It is in the understanding of why workers report feeling satisfied (or dissatisfied) with their jobs that sociology can make a positive contribution.

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