n South African Journal of Labour Relations - Work value change in South Africa between 1995 and 2001 : race, gender and occupations compared

Volume 28, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0379-8410
  • E-ISSN: 2520-3223



Recent literature on values reveals a marked shift in the nature and direction of major life values. Research indicates that advanced industrial societies are showing a distinct shift away from more traditional secular, rational values that emphasise material prosperity and physical and economic security towards individualised values that are more expressive of individual freedom and growth (Inglehart 1990). Work values, as an expression of general life values within the work context, are no exception to this process. Workers in the new economy are less motivated by material rewards, status and advancement and instead seek opportunities for personal development, growth and increased autonomy. The data presented in the current study reveal, however, that in some instances the work values of South Africans reflect a trend against individualisation. This article therefore aims to describe this value shift in South Africa in greater detail, with specific reference to the nature, direction and distribution of the value shift among the various social categories as defined by race, gender and occupational level. The study will then attempt to provide recommendations to inform future workplace policy and practice in South Africa with regard to expected changes in work values.

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