The aim of this essay is to discuss the social consequences for both individuals and the communities in which they reside of prolonged period of unemployment. Unemployment is a word not so easily defined as many may consider the unemployed to be individuals not in employment, ill or undergoing full time education there are certain members of society who are not employed but do not have an interest in work, should these individuals be considered unemployed?
A sociologist defines unemployment as ‘ a part of an economic idea, referring to those people who are theoretically in the labour market, that is potentially competing for jobs and thus affecting the price of labour, but who do not actually have jobs'(C. Crouch, 1999). During this essay I will examine the possible cause of unemployment, the individual and social consequence as a result of unemployment, and the potential for urban violence. In addition, people dispossessed due to unemployment and the effects on western nations such as USA and Europe.
In order to fully understand unemployment we must consider the causes. In a modern mixed economy there are many factors that contribute to unemployment. Firstly, the development of new technology has contributed majorly to the increase of unemployment. ‘Automation has removed the need for many unskilled and semi skilled manual jobs and many non manual jobs have also been hit’ (K. Browne , 2002). During the peak industrious times, car makers such as Ford and GM made full use of manual labour in all their car factories.
Employees stood alongside a conveyer belt performing their designated task. However, as technology progressed so did the car production method. Ford and GM both implemented robotics into their method of production as a result the need for unskilled workers vanished due to the simple fact it was more cost effective to use machinery to manufacture cars and only highly skilled engineers will be required to maintain the machinery. The decline of the manufacturing industry and the rise of globalisation are also major reasons for the rise of unemployment.
As western countries such as Europe and USA advanced in industry and technology their economies grew rapidly and so did their standards of living. This was generally viewed as a positive aspect resulting from economic growth but due to the higher standards of living the cost employment increased significantly this resulted in increased competition from the eastern countries such as Japan which could supply cheaper goods. Western companies needed to find cheaper labour in order to compete; this led to companies moving factories overseas to countries such as China or Taiwan.
This move has drastically decreased the job market leaving thousands unemployed over the years. In addition, the rise of globalisation has made it easier for countries to trade good and services allowing more companies to search for labour overseas, thus increasing the unemployment rate in their home countries. The consequences of unemployment take its toll on any individual or society that has grown accustomed to full time or part time work.
The severity of the consequence of unemployment is stated to depend on the duration of time an individual or society experiences unemployment. ‘The longer people have been unemployed, the more difficult it becomes to re-enter employment, partly because motivation diminishes partly because technologies and occupations change, so the previous experience becomes out of date’ (J. Fulcher and J. Scott, 2007). An individual may face a range of consequences. Firstly, the risk of social exclusion and isolation is far greater when one is unemployed.
An individual may lose contact with work peers as they no longer work together and because they are unemployed there is less money to spend on leisure activities such as a visit to the local pub these factors result in one feeling cut out and isolated from the world. This could cause depression and further reduce the chance of that individual returning to work. Furthermore, He or she may choose to pursue another job this process may prove to stressful and daunting in many ways.
If there is one major employer in their area such as a car factory they will not easily find another job as their skills may most likely not be useful in the local economy. The next job may not pay as much as their previous which will mean a decrease in their standards of living. Individuals may remain hopeful in their search for a job for months but as time goes by they begin to become sceptical and may become demoralized. The amount of time an individual remains hopeful depends on their character, personality and amount of support they receive from friends or family.
In addition, ‘More ill health and depression brought on by a poorer diet, stress, and despair arising from the loss of routine and a sense of purpose'(K. Browne, 2002). The cost of living a healthy life becomes high when unemployed. People with less income begin to purchase inferior goods such as Morrison value products. These goods are cheap but lack quality. Work provides people with a sense of achievement and purpose. People who are made redundant tend to feel a loss of identity and status and this has a negative effect on their self confidence and may lead to despair.