Not Working: an Oral History of the Unemployed

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TitleNot Working: an Oral History of the Unemployed
Publication TypeBook
Pub Year1981
AuthorsMaurer, H.
Keywordsbetrayal, fear, humanness, psychic prison, unemployment
Notes "There are people in this book whose living rooms have turned into prisons without bars, and others who gleefully feel they have escaped jobs that were jails. There are people who have been broken by years of idleness, and others who have discovered emotional resources that allow them to endure--even, in a way, to triumph. In short, the men and women in this book vary enormously. Yet amid the variety there is a common feeling, stated with bitter clarity at times, only half spoken at others, and occasionally not yet formed as a thought but rather a troubled notion whispering behind the words. It is a crime that has been committed." (p. 1) "Unemployed people have been robbed of something, and they know it. The bewilderment they often express is like that of the homeowner who returns to find rooms ransacked, valuable and beloved objects missing. The sense of violence and invasion, the feelings of fear and loss and helplessness descend with the same stunning force when a worker is deprived of work. And the loss is much greater, because work, if the longing of the unemployed is any indication, remains a fundamental human need--even in the crushing form it has increasingly assumed in the modern world. It provides not simply a livelihood, but an essential passage into the human community. It makes us less alone." (p. 1) "Everyone who'd ever lost a job called me up and said something nice. I think that probably got me through. I felt I had not been completely abandoned by everybody, that not everybody would be willing to betray me in the same way. The feelings were so elemental, and so strong, just overpowering. Betrayal. Depression. Shock." (p. 20)
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