Meaning of work as a personal emergent power[?]: Developing theory based on a critical realist study of Sri Lankan workers

Lakshman Wimalasena*, James Richards

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Research on the `meaning of work', especially concerning the Global South, is scarce. This paper aims to reduce this scarcity by applying critical realist meta-theory to the work and life history interviews of workers in Sri Lanka. A key discovery is that finding meaning in life through work is a personal emergent power and that, as such, it explains the way that individuals consciously manoeuvre their life-journeys towards a desired end - a modus vivendi - in a dialectic which involves both emergent structural change (morphogenesis) and agency. This paper also reveals that Margaret Archer's theory of reflexivity, based on interviews with Western individuals, cannot be transferred rigidly to the reflexivity of Global South individuals, and therefore more work on reflexivity within this context is required. This paper therefore makes a theoretical contribution to the existing meaning of work scholarship, and it extends existing understandings of the concepts of reflexivity and emergence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Critical Realism
Early online date21 Feb 2024
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 21 Feb 2024

Keywords

  • Critical realism
  • Sri Lanka
  • emergent powers
  • global south
  • meaning of work
  • reflexivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Philosophy

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