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job satisfactionthe satisfaction that an individual gains (or does not gain) from his or her job. It is generally believed that satisfied employees will be more highly motivated and will work more productively than dissatisfied employees. Job dissatisfaction may lead to ABSENTEEISM, LABOUR TURNOVER, INDUSTRIAL ACTION, etc.
The study of job satisfaction and its determinants has traditionally formed an important component of the SOCIOLOGY OF WORK. HUMAN RELATIONS writers argued that job satisfaction could be encouraged by managerial policies and practices that encouraged a sense of belonging. The rationale for this is that (in their view) people want to belong to a community: by experiencing a community at work workers will feel satisfaction in their work (see ANOMIE). More commonly, technology has been viewed as an important casual factor in job dissatisfaction. American sociologist Robert Blauner (1929 -) argued that, in general, job satisfaction declined in the shift from craft through machine to assembly-line technology but then increased with the adoption of continuous process production, i.e. that found in modern petrochemical plants. In his view, the experience of dissatisfaction could have four dimensions: a sense of powerlessness, of meaninglessness, of isolation and of self-estrangement (see ALIENATION). Today most writers and practitioners take the view that, whilst technology can have certain effects on job satisfaction, there is no necessary form of WORK ORGANIZATION associated with any particular type of technology (see SOCIO-TECHNICAL SYSTEM). It is, therefore, possible to modify work organization to make work more satisfying (see JOB DESIGN AND REDESIGN).
Other writers, however, have followed Karl Marx (1818-83) in asserting that job dissatisfaction is an endemic feature arising from ALIENATION in capitalist society and hence can never be eliminated whilst capitalism remains in existence.
In recent years many analysts of job satisfaction have argued that in looking for the causes of dissatisfaction the focus of study should be widened from analysis of the job itself. Psychologists have argued that workers' experience of job satisfaction is influenced by their expectations of the job. If they have expected that a job would be tedious their dissatisfaction tends not to be as great as if they had expected it to be exciting. In a not dissimilar vein, sociologists have suggested that workers' experience of dissatisfaction is determined to some extent by their ORIENTATIONS TO WORK. If their primary reason for undertaking a certain job is to achieve a high income they do not experience strong dissatisfaction even if the job is tedious and repetitive (as long as it pays well). As one sociologist put it, ‘they see the wound but feel no pain’.