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Moral development in the biographies of skilled industrial workers

[journal article]

Lempert, Wolfgang

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Abstract This article is based on a longitudinal study of relations between biographical conditions and the personality development of 21 young workers ranging from 23 to 30 years of age who had passed through an apprenticeship in large plants of the metal industry in West Berlin. The biographical analyses focused mainly on occupational conditions; the personality analyses, on such socio-cognitive variables as patterns of control awareness and structures of moral judgement. A review of the relevant literature led to the hypothesis that seven social conditions in particular promote development. Data on these conditions were collected continually through in-depth interviews of the workers, observations of their work and information from their superiors, personnel managers and works councils. Data on moral judgement were collected at the beginning and end of the study by confronting the workers with five real-life dilemmas in a semi-structured interview. Before the second series of “moral interviews”, predictions of the individual moral levels of all subjects were derived from their former reasoning and their intermediate biographical experiences. The responses of the interviewees confirmed nearly all the predictions. Occupational experiences appeared to have contributed considerably to moral development in most respondents.
Keywords morality; moral judgement; skilled worker; young adult; biography; personality development; metal industry; professional experience; interaction; social responsibility
Classification Sociology of Work, Industrial Sociology, Industrial Relations; Social Psychology; Occupational Research, Occupational Sociology
Method empirical
Free Keywords Biography; Industry
Document language English
Publication Year 1994
Page/Pages p. 451-468
Journal The Journal of Moral Education, 23 (1994) 4
Status Published Version; reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works