Being valued and devalued at work: A social valuing perspective

By: Jane Dutton, Gelaye Debebe, Amy Wrzesniewski

Dutton, J. , G. Debebe and A, Wrzesniewski. Being Valued and Devalued at Work: A Social Valuing Perspective. Qualitative Organizational Research: Best Papers from the Davis Conference on Qualitative Research, Volume 3, Information Age Publishing, 2012.


This paper describes how people who clean hospitals experience everyday interactions as both occasions in which their value as individuals is diminished and as occasions in which their value is enhanced. The core of the paper focuses on the different ways that interactions with others grant or deny felt worth. We use stories told by hospital cleaners to build a description of the valuing and devaluing acts that help to compose the meaning that people derive from their work. We use thecleaners’ vivid and deeply felt accounts to build a framework to describe key elements in the social valuing process that takes place at work.