“First, it's Dirty. Second, it's Dangerous. Third, it's Insulting”: Urban Chinese Children Talk about Dirty Work

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meanings of work, career, discourse, children, developmental, culture, China, crganizational communication, socialization, dirty work, stigma, engineering

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Research on stigmatized work is based on western adults’ behaviors regarding objective work features. Our empirical study extends scholarship by examining urban Chinese children's meanings of work and occupations, particularly dirty work. Using hybrid inductive-deductive analyses of focus group and interview data from over 200 Chinese children, our findings explore their constructions of engineering as undesirable or socially stigmatized dirty work—dirty, dangerous, and demeaning or insulting. Although children perceived other work and occupations to have similar features, they did not consider engineering to be honorable, prestigious, intellectually challenging, or appropriate for their socioeconomic-urban position. Our study contributes to understandings of children's career circumscription and occupational socialization processes in cultural contexts and subjective understandings of stigmatized work.

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Communication Monographs, v. 79, issue 1, p. 93-114