Drawing on the emerging field of narrative theory in sociology and psychology, this book argues that an individual's response to job loss is a product of the shape of the story a person tells about their experience. This, in turn, is a product of both individual creativity and the structuring effects of their social location. Based on a qualitative study of the experience of unemployment in Australia, three main types of job loss narratives are identified. First, romantic narratives describe job loss as a positive experience of liberation from an oppressive job, leading to a gradually improving future. Second, tragic narratives describe job loss as undermining a person's life plan, leading to a phase of depression, anxiety and self-deprecation. Finally, job loss narratives may be complicated by marital breakdown or serious illness. The book breaks new ground in its use of narrative theory to account for the variations in responses to unemployment.
Douglas Ezzy PhD, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Australia. Teaches sociology in the school of Sociology and Social Work at the University of Tasmania.