Date of Award

Fall 1996

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Bud B Khleif


In this dissertation, I explore occupational socialization and identity formation within the context of work, the workplace, and work practices. The workers presented in this study are long-haul, freight carrying truck drivers. The components of this study include: (a) a socio-historical analysis of the trucking industry, and (b) how characteristics of the truck drivers' work influence his identity, and how this influence is different for various types of drivers.

I have reviewed changes in the trucking industry from its beginnings at the start of this century to its current status in 1996. This includes looking at organizations developed in response to the growth of the trucking industry such as the Interstate Commerce Commission, large hauling companies, and the union.

The second component of this study is concerned with how the truck driver maintains his professional identity when faced with influences from contradictory groups that make up his role-set. For this purpose, I conducted 76 in-depth interviews: 70 interviews were conducted with long haul truck drivers; 6, with other individuals in the industry. I asked them open-ended questions about aspects of their work as truck drivers as well as questions about their family life.

An overall finding of this study is that workers who experience more autonomy in their day-to-day work activities are more likely to resist understanding their identity through lay interpretations they receive from their role-set members. These differences in autonomy are experienced through two elements that might be present for any driver: (a) the Industry Status of the driver as independent or self-employed, or as working for a trucking company, or (b) the Length of Service of the driver in his occupation. These different elements that drivers experience at different levels allow the truck driver's socialization process to be mediated, resulting in a variety of attitudes towards work that seem to vary according to the independence of the driver (Industry Status) and how long the worker has been driving (Length of Service).