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Making social comparisons in individualized work situations

Conference contribution
Authors Mattias Bengtsson
Tomas Berglund
Published in Svenska Sociologförbundets årskongress Socialpsykologi och konflikt: mikro-och makroaspekter i Skövde, Sverige, 10-11 februari 2005.
Publication year 2005
Published at Department of Sociology
Language en
Keywords social comparisons, individualized work situation, job satisfaction, career orientation
Subject categories Sociology, Work Sciences


In the paper, the effects of influence over different aspects (i.e. working-time, work-place, further training, salary) of the employment relationship (IER) on social compari-sons are studied. The social comparisons in focus are internal comparisons (close workmates, other employees in the company or organization), and cohort comparisons (other persons who have worked about the same length of time, other persons with the same salary, other persons with the same length of education). The comparison attribute in question is general working conditions. A main hypothesis is that formalized indica-tors to use for evaluation of one’s working conditions will not be that salient in an indi-vidualized work situation (i.e. high in IER) as in work situations characterized by a standardization of regulations. This will make employees more inclined to make social comparisons. Though, the effects of IER will vary for employees in different hierarchi-cal positions in the organization, because of different processes of mediation (i.e. work satisfaction and career orientation). Data was collected 2003 via a postal survey to em-ployees in Sweden (n=3286). The results show that IER are negatively related to cohort comparisons for employees in the service class, but positively related to both other-internal and cohort comparisons in the working class. The hypotheses of a mediating significance of job satisfaction and career orientation are partly supported. Though, these variables can’t explain the whole effect of IER on the comparisons in question.

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