Historical background to research on job loss, unemployment, and job search

Norman Feather

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


This chapter provides a selective review of past research on job loss, unemployment, and job search up to the beginning of the 1990s. The Great Depression studies in the 1930s at Marienthal by Jahoda and colleagues and by Bakke at Greenwich and New Haven are described, along with other research at the time. These early studies sowed the seeds for subsequent research programs in England, Europe, and Australia; the theories that emerged from this early and later research are described. They include stage theory, deprivation theory, agency theory, and vitamin theory. Other more general approaches - such as stress and coping models and expectancy-value theory - are also described as relevant to the unemployment experience. The historical review provides lessons about the importance of using a variety of methodologies that include descriptive field research, survey and questionnaire studies, longitudinal research, and research across cultures. It also suggests that progress will involve the application of midrange theories about work, paid employment, and unemployment targeted to particular issues such as psychological well-being, health-related problems, social and family effects, and job-search behavior.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Job Loss and Job Search
EditorsUte-Christine Klehe, Edwin van Hooft
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780199764921
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2018


  • 1980s research
  • Great depression studies
  • Midrange theories


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