Boredom on the Job


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This introductory-level assignment starts with a basic premise: Work can sometimes be boring. Students are asked to interview someone who has worked in a self-defined “boring” job and document and analyze those experiences. This is a two-part assignment, the first of which is conducted individually and the second in small groups in class. First, students are provided with an interview schedule that they use for their informal interviews with those who have experienced boredom on the job. They are required to individually write a paper in which they analyze the themes pertaining to workplace monotony discovered in their interviews. Second, on the day on which the assignment is due, I divide the students into groups based on the workplace or industry that is the focus of their papers (food service, office work, retail, manual labor, seasonal work, child care, etc.). I have each group compare the employees’ experiences highlighted in their papers and ask them to document recurring themes in workplace monotony in their group. As a class, we then discuss the main sources of monotony in each industry and students are asked to speculate on how each industry may influence particular boredoms and levels of satisfaction on the job. Doing so encourages students to understand how monotony—and responses to it—may be tied to structural components of particular workplace industries.


Resource Type(s):
Michael Ramirez 
Date Published:
Subject Area:
Work and Labor Markets 
Class Level:
College 100 
Class Size:

Usage Notes:

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In this assignment, I get students to analyze monotonous aspects of contemporary jobs and the ways in which workers deal with these aspects of work life. After reading and/or lecturing on sociological analyses of work, I assign the first segment of the assignment to be completed individually. Students conduct an...

Learning Goals and Assessments:

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Goal 1:
To understand the sociological dimensions of monotony in the workplace and the extent to which it may vary by industry and/or job.
Assessment 1:
Students will demonstrate learning by analyzing the interview data for sociological understandings of the workplace and its influence on monotony on the job.
Goal 2:
To understand the extent to which the structure of jobs influences experiences, interactions, enjoyment, monotony, and autonomy in the workplace.
Assessment 2:
Students will demonstrate learning by mapping the influence particular workplace industries have on job satisfaction in their written and oral responses.

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trails boring work handouts.docx
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