Economics explains discrimination in the labour market
Economics explains discrimination in the labour market

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Economics explains discrimination in the labour market

6.2.3 Tastes and attitudes

In contrast to the neoclassical assumptions of given tastes and attitudes, the segmented labour market theory treats both of these as endogenous. In other words, the prejudices that some groups hold against others, the attitudes that some disadvantaged groups have about work and so on are not taken as given. There are reasons why these prejudices and attitudes develop as they do and understanding these is essential in order to understand how the labour market operates to the detriment of these groups. Thus, on the one hand, unstable inner-city employment can be attributed to an adverse interaction between individual attitudes to work and to wider issues, while on the other hand, it may be attributable to the type of work which may be repetitive, menial and low paid. The experience of secondary jobs cumulatively leads to disadvantaged workers developing high quit rates and other bad work habits. Workers employed in bad jobs become bad workers. Similarly, the confinement of married women to secondary segment jobs reflects preferences that are moulded by their subordinate positions within both family and society. Finally, our understanding of discrimination can only be achieved once we recognise that some groups in society actually benefit from it.


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