WORK, AGING AND SOCIAL CHANGE: Professionals and the One Life-One Career Imperative by Seymour B. Sarason
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WORK, AGING AND SOCIAL CHANGE: Professionals and the One Life-One Career Imperative

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Tracts on blue-collar job alienation abound and everyone knows that the man in the grey flannel suit, while he may have switched to mod clothing, is still miserable on Madison Avenue. Yale psychologist Sarason believes the misery has spread to professionals--doctors, lawyers, teachers, and ministers--whose work once held the promise of inherent satisfactions and rewards. His tightly-knit argument is set in a broad historical perspective; Sarason sees the entire post-WW II period as a time when values of authenticity and self-discovery became paramount. (""Doing your own thing""--the catchall of the Sixties, represented no radical discontinuity.) But as graduate schools became flooded and professional careers more hierarchic and bureaucratized, the personal rewards of the once-exalted vocations declined. Drawing on interviews with college students as well as middle-aged doctors and other professionals, Sarason contends, cogently and depressingly, that we are witnessing the ascendancy of a pessimistic ""dysphoric"" view of the future--a sense of aging, entrapment, and stagnation which portends psychological and social death. He believes that the ""one career-one life imperative""--for which we are programmed from childhood--has become a dysfunctional booby-trap. Increasingly, ""growth and permanence of commitment are seen as polarities""--in work as well as marriage. Sarason covers a lot of ground: from Holden Caulfield to Carl Rogers, from the GI Bill of Rights to ""dropping out"" in Santa Fe. There are bound to be some who see unrest among a privileged elite as much ado about very little, but Sarason makes the case that it is portentous. A complex, multivalent book which disputes individualistic salvation and looks bleakly toward a future where a sense of community seems ever more elusive.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1977
Publisher: Free Press/Macmillan