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When Work and Meaning Part Ways

Following The Orders

Most workers rely on the whims and fancies of the so-called 'Job Creators', a class of people who own a business and can employ staff. Job creators hold power on the worker's time, behavior and conditions of employment.

These employers also monitor and sanction what workers post on social media, what they eat or drink, how frequently and for how long are they going to the bathroom, and what are their political leanings.

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IDEA EXTRACTED FROM:

When Work and Meaning Part Ways

When Work and Meaning Part Ways

https://hedgehogreview.com/issues/the-evening-of-life/articles/when-work-and-meaning-part-ways

hedgehogreview.com

6

Key Ideas

Problems with the Work Ethic

  • For centuries, the promise of America has been built on the work ethic, with everyone aspiring to have a job that pays them.
  • Work Ethic as it is has not provided any social, moral or spiritual benefits that it should.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Big Data are on the verge to render the work ethic useless.

The Unfulfilled Promise of Work

What working a decent job means is slowing losing ground, as we are not deriving meaning from our work.

Having a job means getting paid for our talents, but it may not be the case for many. Work ethic is supposed to provide us a good life, but in reality, the opposite is happening.

Following The Orders

Most workers rely on the whims and fancies of the so-called 'Job Creators', a class of people who own a business and can employ staff. Job creators hold power on the worker's time, behavior and conditions of employment.

These employers also monitor and sanction what workers post on social media, what they eat or drink, how frequently and for how long are they going to the bathroom, and what are their political leanings.

We Become what We Repeat

Whatever action we do repeatedly, we tend to imbibe in us and it eventually makes up our character.

Repeating good or bad deeds builds up our personality accordingly. What we repeatedly do in our jobs forms our character.

One Tiny Task On Repeat

Most work today is akin to a 'pin factory' where workers keep working a small, repetitive task all day.

Performing a narrow range of mental or physical actions in a job hampers our personal, intellectual and social growth.

Feeling Miserable

Even as we see that work is not providing us with what it promises, we find that it never did, throughout history. Work has never fulfilled the expectations that we seem to now have for it, as it inherently is miserable.

Society has always been biased towards hard-working people and those with great work ethic, but the very foundation is now collapsing.

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The focus of skills over knowledge

Considering the K-12 system, we see that the emphasis on skills over content has changed the curriculum. Students increasingly focus on learning skills, but they may not learn too much history or science.

Critical thinking is not enough on its own. It needs to be used to gain insight from studying meaningful subject matter, like history or economics or physics or chemistry.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is a disciplined activity. It is not something we can acquire without intensive study and practice, nor can we isolate it from knowledge. Knowledge is foundational to provide the structure to do deep thinking.

Only with some background knowledge, can we apply the skills of critical thinking to problems and texts, understand the strengths and weaknesses of arguments, and offer creative solutions.

Make space to create meaning

Provide digital self-assessment tools and the types of personal exploration exercises that facilitate reflection.  

These mechanisms can help employees identify personal sources...

Provide the right amount of structure

Formal employee programs and activities, such as rotational opportunities, innovation labs, reverse mentoring and milestone experiences, can help employees build deeper, more diverse relationships while promoting growth.

Build strong teams

Deepening relationships is a key source of fulfillment.

Shared experiences help employees come together in ways that build meaningful connections and trust. Activities that provide a common purpose — such as an escape room game or a hackathon — are especially effective.

one more idea

Our culture of work

Our culture claims that work is unavoidable and natural. The idea that the world can be freed from work, wholly or in part, has been suppressed for as long as capitalism has existed.

Exploring the abolition of work

  • In 1885, socialist William Morris proposed that in the factories of the future, employees should work only four hours a day.
  • In 1930, John Maynard Keynes predicted that advances in technology would lead to an age of leisure where people might work 15 hours a week.
  • Since the early 2010s, these ideas have been developed further, creating a growing critique of work as an ideology, and exploring alternatives to work.
  • Post-work offers enormous promises: In a life of much less work, life would be calmer, more equal, more communal, more pleasurable, more thoughtful, more politically engaged, more fulfilled.

Work ideology

The work ideology is not natural nor very old.

  • Before the modern era, all cultures thought of work as a means to an end, not an end in itself.
  • Once the modern work ethic was established, working patterns started to shift. Between 1800 and 1900, the average working week shrank from 80 hours to 60 hours, and in the 1970s to roughly 40 hours.
  • In 1979, Bernard Lefkowitz related in his book that people who had given up their jobs reported feelings of "wholeness." During the same period, because wages were high enough, it became possible for most people to work less.
  • During the 80s, work ideology was reimposed by aggressively pro-business governments who were motivated by a desire for social control.
  • By the early 21st century, the work culture seems inescapable.

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