Elias stated that the project was

…concerned with the problems which young male and female workers encounter during their adjustment to their work situation and their entry into the world of adults. When they go to work, or begin to train for work, young workers have to make a wider adjustment to a situation and to roles which are new to them, whose implications are often imperfectly understood by them and by the adults concerned, and for which they are in many cases not too well prepared. The project will differ from other studies in investigating this wider adjustment which young workers have to make in their relationships with older workers and supervisors in the factory or workshop; to the problems and to their role as workers; and to their roles as money earners in home relations and in their leisure time. The factors to be examined will include differences between age groups, between sexes, in size of organisation, in nature and status of job, and between young workers from working class and middle class home backgrounds. We intend to pay special attention to the overall characteristics of industrial societies responsible for the specific problems of adjustment for people in this age group. (Young Worker Project, Minutes of Fifth Meeting 18 April 1962, p.2); 

source: http://www.clms.le.ac.uk/research_projects/youngworkers/youngworker.html

"… nothing, or very little, that the school leaver has been taught has prepared him or her for the experience of starting work; that the experience was a “shock” experience.


(the emphasis should be on) what the young workers are faced with, as they see it and describe it in talking about their first few weeks in the factory.


(the young people make the transition from a) …situation in which money, and food and clothing are given, and received as a right, without anything being given by the child in exchange, to a situation in which money is only given in exchange for work by the receiver. 


The change from a situation of economic dependence and security in the home to a situation where the young worker had to earn his own living was in fact a relatively long drawn out process, beginning for example, with a newspaper round, to earn pocket money, at the age of 12 or 14, and not being complete until the young worker married and left his parental home at the age of 21. This might ease the adjustment and dissipate the shock." (pp.1-2)



John Goodwin and Henrietta O'Connor: Forty Years On: Norbert Elias and the Young Worker Project. CLMS Working Paper No 35 (Centre for Labour Market Studies, University of Leicester), pp. 13, 17