Forty years ago, between 1962-1964, fieldwork was carried out on the research project Adjustment of Young Workers to Work Situations and Adult Roles. Using archived materials relating to the little known Norbert Elias project, this paper has two aims. First, to introduce this largely unknown aspect of Elias’s work to a wider audience. Second, to explore in detail Elias’s contributions to the project by piecing together his ideas and hypotheses from archived materials. During the early stages of the research, Elias suggested that the transition from school to work constituted a ‘shock’ experience and that young people would experience initial difficulties in adjusting to their new role. He suggested that difficulties would emerge in their relationships with older workers, with family and with their new income. For the first time this paper presents Elias’s ‘shock’ hypothesis, and his thoughts on school to work transitions. The paper concludes by reflecting on the value of the shock hypothesis and the possible impact that the Adjustment of Young Workers to Work Situations and Adult Roles project may have on Elias standing in British sociology.From an ESRC project ‘From Young Workers To Older Workers: Reflections on Work in the Life Course’ (R000223653). The authors were fortunate to visit the Deutsches Literaturarchiv with the aid of a grant from the University of Leicester Research Fund (Grant number FS14002)
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