The Unemployed in the Inter-war Period and at the End of the 20th Century: Problems, Attitudes, Narratives. Analysis of the Memoirs of the Unemployed
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Graduate School for Social Research, Polish Academy of Sciences
Publication date: 2007-03-26
Polish Sociological Review 2007;157(1):27–43
This article compares memoirs written by the unemployed in the 1930s and at the end of the 20th century. It pays particular attention to the structural, social and psychological similarities between the plights of the unemployed in these two periods. Through affirmative reading of the diaries, fully trusting in the diarists’ honesty, the author tracks the sources of income, the consequences of poverty and joblessness, attitudes towards capitalism, and the diarists’ social and psychological condition. Much of the work is devoted to discussion of differences between women’s and men’s memoirs. The author attempts to identify the reasons for gender-specific personal narratives which the memoirs clearly are. She also discusses the question of self-narrative as a modern way of constructing identity and agency, a painful and often fruitless process for marginalised people.