ISSN 1671-3710
CN 11-4766/R

Advances in Psychological Science ›› 2022, Vol. 30 ›› Issue (3): 703-714.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1042.2022.00703

• Regular Articles • Previous Articles    

The mechanism of dirty worker occupational stigma and its coping strategies

ZhANG Guanglei, HUANG Ting, YIN Xiangzhou()   

  1. School of Management, Wuhan University of Technology, Wuhan 430070, China
  • Received:2021-05-19 Online:2022-03-15 Published:2022-01-25
  • Contact: YIN Xiangzhou


“Dirty work” refers to occupational activities that are physically disgusting, that symbolize degradation, that wound the individual’s dignity, or that run counter to the more heroic of our moral conceptions. Firstly, the definition of dirty work is defined from the perspective of objective work characteristics, subjective cognition and contingency, and individual stigma, occupational stigma and organizational stigma are differentiated from the three dimensions of generation, management and dissemination. Secondly, a process model of perceived threat of occupational stigma was constructed based on cognitive evaluation theory, including :(1) antecedents and characteristics of occupational stigma. Antecedents of occupational stigma can be divided into macro factors (laws/regulations/social policies and socio-cultural environment), medium factors (media) and micro factors (public, dirty workers and dirty characteristics of work). The characteristics of occupational stigma are concealability, controllability, centrality and Disruptiveness. (2) Strategies for managing occupational stigma. According to the object and level of change, management strategies can be divided into four categories: individual/behavioral strategy, individual/cognitive strategy, collective/behavioral strategy and collective/cognitive strategy. Individual/behavioral strategies, including personal mobility, information management and confronting or countering outsiders' perceptions of taint and outsiders' behaviours, mainly refer to the strategies used by dirty workers to avoid damage to their own image by keeping a distance from negative occupational groups and distracting the attention of the audience, or to change others' negative evaluation of dirty work by taking active actions. Individual/cognitive strategies, including individualized strategies, acceptance, and emotional labor, mainly refer to the strategies used by dirty workers to reduce the negative impact of occupational stigma by reconstructing their individual cognition. Collective/behavioral strategies, including social competition and realistic competition, mainly refer to the strategies used by dirty workers to improve their professional status and protect their self-esteem from threats associated with occupational stigma through inter-group competition. Collective/cognitive strategies, including occupational ideologies and social weighting, mainly refer to the strategies used by dirty workers to improve their job evaluations by challenging the validity of occupational stigma.; (3) The impact of occupational stigma on dirty workers. The results can be divided into three categories: based on mental health, attitudes and behaviors at work, and relationship outcomes. The effects on mental health are reflected in the stress and negative emotions experienced by dirty workers. The influence on work attitude and behavior is manifested in low job satisfaction, low job meaning perception, high relative deprivation, high dimission behavior, counterproductive work behavior, job burnout and low task performance. The influence on interpersonal relationship is reflected in the perception of social isolation, disrespect and discrimination of dirty workers in interpersonal communication. Potential future research directions are proposed: (1) To explore the sources of occupational stigma from a dynamic perspective; (2) To explore the path and effect of occupational stigma management based on individual and situational factors; (2)To consider diverse cultural backgrounds.

Key words: dirty work, occupational stigma, self-awareness, cognitive evaluation

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