W o r k has meaning for the worker apart from its purely economic function. A j o b gives structure to the worker's day : the demands of his work determine the time a m a n rises i n the morn ing and when he goes to bed at night. W o r k fills the day : the m a n who is work ing is unl ikely to be concerned each day wi th how to dispose of leisure time. W o r k provides the worker w i t h associates: few persons work i n complete isolation. " O n c e work is organized," says an astute observer, " i t is soc i a l . " 1 F o r many persons work is the source of their sense of self-worth. M e n i n part icular , i n Western societies, find the role of the worker central to their self-conceptions. Those young and middle-aged who do not work are seen as "playboys"—persons adult i n years but chi ldish i n that they lack occupation. T h e j o b determines who a m a n is and how a m a n feels. 2
A m a n is never as aware of his work and its meaning to h i m as at that time when he anticipates retirement. Persons normal ly reticent may become quite volati le when they speak of their work. Such a preoccupation w i t h work is i l lustrated i n interviews w i t h a 69-year-old m a n i n the eastern U n i t e d States and a 77-year-old man i n Denmark .