Everyone Should Have Something to Point to Themes in Studs Terkel’s Working

Michael J. Urick, Muyang Li, Dawna Gilvarry, Ryan Riesmeyer


This paper represents a qualitative analysis of the musical version of Studs Terkel’s classic book Working (Terkel, 2004: reprinted from 1972). These works present previously under-analyzed raw data representing over 130 interviews of workers from a variety of backgrounds in which they reflect on their perspectives of work. In our analysis, we identified the following themes (some of which have been explored thoro- ughly in organizational research and some of which could represent future fruitful areas of study): aspirations, routine/change, emotional connection, contribution, stereotyping and marginalization, identity, workplace conditions, family and work-life balance issues, and role uniqueness. Following our analysis, we discuss implications for future research, pedagogy, and business practitioners as well as limitations and suggestions for future research.

Keywords: Studs Terkel, Working, role identity, intrinsic motivation, work-life balance

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