Psychic wounds and the social structure: an empirical investigation

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Publication details

Darab, S & Hartman, Y 2011, 'Psychic wounds and the social structure: an empirical investigation', Current Sociology, vol. 59, no. 6, pp 787-804.

The definitive publisher-authenticated version is available online at http://online.sagepub.com, http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0011392111419751

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Empirical linkages between structure and agency, or system and life world, have traditionally not been overabundant in sociology, though work emerging in the field of the sociology of emotions does offer some illumination on this topic. This article uses data obtained in a project which investigated the impact of the Howard government’s dual reforms in the industrial relations and welfare policy arenas. In this article, we seek to explore in some depth how a system that is underpinned by the notion of dignity and rights produces shame in its supposed beneficiaries, based on the evidence in the data collected. As well, we attempt to expose the processes by which shame is produced and how it manifests among the participants in the study. The first part of the article focuses upon the broader structural context, while the second proceeds to examine how this impinges upon agents at the microsocial level. Workfare recipients are constructed as dependants, in a society that privileges independence and ignores the crucial fact of our mutual interdependency. The transcripts reveal that the denial of autonomy and respect are key mechanisms by which dignity is injured. In exploring these phenomena, the purpose of the article is to demonstrate the usually veiled connections between individuals and their larger social context.

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