Lecture – Work, worklessness and mental health from 1931 Vienna to 2019 Brisbane by Professor David Fryer

Modern research into the relationship between work, unemployment and mental health effectively began in the Vienna of Sigmund Freud amidst rising antisemitism and the beginnings of contemporary social science. It continued across Europe during the Great Depression, expanded and intensified under the sweeping political changes made by Margret Thatcher in the UK and under Ronald Reagan in the USA and received fresh impetus, in Australia, as austerity policies were adopted. We will look at the social history of unemployment and its accompanying health research, ways in which social scientists have attempted to demonstrate that unemployment causes misery, morbidity and mortality, theoretical approaches to explaining what it is about the lived experience of unemployment which is psychologically toxic and how politicians and policy makers have responded to the research.  We will close by thinking through implications for the psychological impacts of part time, precarious, employment and retirement.