Économie et Statistique n° 393-394 - 2006Life Story survey
The role of work in personal identity
The Life Story («Histoire de vie») survey highlights the role of work amongst the various constituent elements of personal identity and the relative importance people give it in their own identity. Although 40% of those questioned and 54% of the labour force consider work to be one of the three elements that «best defines them», it comes in second place far behind family. 7% of those questioned consider work as the main element in their personal identity, and 60% do not list work as one of the three identification themes. Two thirds of people in employment state that «work is quite important, but not as important as other things»: work seems to be in direct competition with other activities, areas of life and values. There seem to be two factors at work here: one is linked to work and to working conditions, which notably helps to explain the «withdrawal» of intermediaries, white-collar workers and blue-collar workers, whilst the other is linked to life outside of work, which highlights the conflict between professional life and family life, particularly for women. However, these two factors are not enough to explain the position of immigrants and people from immigrant backgrounds, who are overrepresented in the survey, with regard to work.