The Company Man

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Ellen Goodman has been named columnist of the year, she has won the Pulitzer Prize in 1980, as well as writing books, essays, and reports. She is an educator, researcher, and a syndicated columnist to name but a few of her talents. The short story that Ellen Goodman wrote, called “The Company Man” really identifies one’s self with the in-group concept and the identity salience hierarchy.

The in-group concept, a concept of being grouped together by beliefs and values, a commonality within a group, is shown in the story with the group of workers sharing a common belief that hard work will pay off in the end. The identity salience hierarchy refers to ranking our roles based on importance. This can be seen when “The Company Man” ranks his role as a Vice President as the highest order of importance, even above his family.

The in-group in this short story is based on successful people who are trying to achieve more out of life. Just as the story describes there is a common belief that working hard will be rewarded with job advancement, more money, and power. Phil’s common values and beliefs are implied because of the number of hours and days he works, as well as his desire to become the President one day; he is in fact tipped “one of three”.

With the announcement of the Company Man’s death, his friends and acquaintances have to stop for five or ten minutes to think about how they are living. They know he worked himself to death with working six days a week, some 12 hours a day. Not only that, but even on his day off, he continually thought about his work. While everyone was fully aware of the devastating effects of this, they found themselves in the same position, that of being workaholics.

It is interesting to note that the one in-group that should be present in anyone’s life is missing. This missing in-group is that of immediate family. While Phil had a wife and 3 children, he was not part of that in-group. This is clearly evidenced when in the days...
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