Title: Who are you calling 'dirty'? Actors' and observers' perceptions of dirty work and implications for taint management

Authors: Charlotte Rayner; Nikola Djurkovic; Darcy McCormack

Addresses: Portsmouth Business School, University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth PO1 3DE, UK ' Swinburne Business School, Swinburne University of Technology, P.O. Box 218, Hawthorn, Victoria, 3122, Australia ' School of Business, Australian Catholic University, Locked Bag 4115, Fitzroy, Victoria, 3065, Australia

Abstract: This conceptual article develops the discussion on 'dirty work' from the occupational level of analysis to the task level. The focus is on occupations where dirty work is only a small part of the whole job, thereby exploring a neglected area but one which characterises most employment. A contribution is made in this article to the understanding of the social construction mechanisms involved in dirty work by considering observers' perspective of those undertaking these occasional 'dirty' tasks. An insight is provided to the importance of the management of taint, showing how positive taint management can affect the actors and their observers, mitigating the risk of taint contagion from the task to their occupation. The example of firing employees is used to reveal differences in social stigmatisation attributed by observers of the task to the principal actors - the line manager and human resource practitioner.

Keywords: dirty work; layoffs; social construction; stigma management; taint management; line management; human resource management; HRM; social taint; moral taint.

DOI: 10.1504/IJWOE.2014.060931

International Journal of Work Organisation and Emotion, 2014 Vol.6 No.2, pp.209 - 222

Received: 08 May 2021
Accepted: 12 May 2021

Published online: 06 May 2014 *

Full-text access for editors Access for subscribers Purchase this article Comment on this article