The End of Work?
By Evan Biy / filmsforaction.org

The End of Work?

       A great deal of academic research in the 20th Century focused on the negative effects of Capitalist Industrialisation; environmental effects, child labour, alienation in work- the list goes on. The beginning of the 21st Century marked at change in discourse. In the modern age scholars, ironically, began investigating the negative effects of de-industrialisation.

      The intensification of global market forces on employment, unregulated by the nation state, coupled with new technologies accelerating the process of job loss means that in the 21st century the “job for life” is no longer viable for the vast majority- are we entering the end of work?

      As the 2008 economic collapse illustrated, western society’s core structural framework, based in employment, was no longer a strong basis for social identity. In the past, if you worked hard, got good grades, graduated from university and got a good job you were said to have safety and an identity for life. This is no longer true. In the 21st Century a potential for a ‘proletarianisation’ of white collar workers is a plausible and distinct possibility.

       During the Industrial Age work was the main orientation point in reference to which all other life pursuits could be planned and ordered. Today we are less certain of this. An attainment of a social identity through work is no longer viable for the vast majority, in a working sphere where certainty and longevity have become blurred. Today, social identity in western societies is largely, or solely, derived from what the individual consumes, thus marginalising work based meaning. Paid employment is no longer the source of identity, but is instead used as the main generator of identity for both the rich and poor. The rich can gain said identity through consumption of the ‘right’ products, whilst the poor are left behind as the “flawed consumer”, becoming devoid of social meaning.

       While having negative implications in the short to medium term, the end of work as we know it is positive in the long term; are we approaching a Utopianism at work? Work must now lose its centrality in the minds, thoughts and imaginations of everyone. The social bond it forged was weak and abstract. While it did insert people into social labour and social relationships, these were only by products of being cogs in the immense machine. Are we heading towards a world where upon first interaction with a new person we no longer ask “And what do you do?”

        Nostalgia for the age of full employment is the last point of relevance for the now ended Industrial age. Once this nostalgia has ceased the truly major issue of the second modernity can flourish front and centre. A reformation of the working social structure is seen by many academics, to lie in a mixture of paid employment and voluntary work. State guarantees on a minimum income and a revival of the civil society, along with a conscious re-evaluation of the stigma attached to welfare schemes will allow community togetherness to flourish and identity to be gained from pursuits of interest.

        A move away from the alienation which categorised the Industrial Age towards a world of work which is challenging and fulfilling is a clearly achievable goal as we venture deeper into the 21st Century. Individuals will develop a range of skills and engage in numerous activities. The salient question when meeting someone new will no longer be “what do you do?” but instead “what do you enjoy doing?” and everyone will have an answer.

0.0 ·
0
What's Next
Trending Today
Welcome to Marinaleda: The Spanish Anti-Capitalist Town With Equal Wage Full Employment and $19 Housing
Jade Small · 9,471 views today · With virtually no police, crime or unemployment, meet the Spanish town described as a democratic, socialist utopia. Unemployment is non-existent in Marinaleda, an Andalusian...
Who Are You? Watching This Breathtaking Video Could Be the Moment You Change Your Life
2 min · 8,268 views today · "Normal is getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work, driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for, in order to get to a job that you need so you can...
When You Kill Ten Million Africans You Aren't Called 'Hitler'
Liam O'Ceallaigh · 7,780 views today · Take a look at this picture. Do you know who it is? Most people haven’t heard of him. But you should have. When you see his face or hear his name you should get as sick in...
11 Traits of People With High Emotional Intelligence
Raven Fon · 7,369 views today · Lately, new ways to describe human interactions, social behaviours, and many facets of psychology have emerged on the social network scene. One of those descriptions is “high...
How a Trump Presidency Would Unleash a Torrent of Racist Violence-And Devastate the Left
Arun Gupta · 7,126 views today · The Left should take the Trump threat very seriously.
10 Provocative Quotes from Ivan Illich's "Deschooling Society"
Daniel Lattier · 5,151 views today · Ivan Illich’s groundbreaking book Deschooling Society (1971) offers a radical critique of the institutionalization of education within modern societies. Illich believed that we...
Maya Angelou's 3-Word Secret to Living Your Best Life
3 min · 4,822 views today · Dr. Maya Angelou says that in order to be the best human being you can be, you must follow one simple directive: "Just do right." Watch as Dr. Angelou reveals how you can never...
Today I Rise: This Beautiful Short Film Is Like a Love Poem For Your Heart and Soul
4 min · 4,810 views today · "The world is missing what I am ready to give: My Wisdom, My Sweetness, My Love and My hunger for Peace." "Where are you? Where are you, little girl with broken wings but full...
Forest Man
16 min · 4,430 views today · Since the 1970's Majuli islander Jadav Payeng has been planting trees in order to save his island. To date he has single handedly planted a forest larger than Central Park NYC...
Doctors Response to Daily Mail Bigotry is Beautiful
Neil Tiwari · 4,134 views today · A poetic open letter to the Daily Mail newspaper from Dr. Neil Tiwari, in response to a bigoted attack on his colleagues, is going viral and it's beautiful.
Superblocks: How Barcelona Is Taking City Streets Back From Cars
5 min · 3,786 views today · Modern cities are designed for cars. But the city of Barcelona is testing out an urban design trick that can give cities back to pedestrians.
Real Change in Democracy Comes Not in the Voting Booth but Activism at the Grass-Roots
Ilze Peterson · 3,637 views today · Many years ago, the late Judy Guay, a low-income woman from Bangor, founded the Maine Association of Interdependent Neighborhoods in order to advocate for the neediest in our...
Fighting Trump - Residents Opposing Donald Trump's Scottish Golf Resort
14 min · 3,548 views today · Documentary on the residents protesting against Donald Trump's golf development on the Menie Estate in Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Directed and Presented by James Trosh.
What Makes Call-Out Culture So Toxic
Asam Ahmad · 3,235 views today · Call-out culture refers to the tendency among progressives, radicals, activists, and community organizers to publicly name instances or patterns of oppressive behaviour and...
How to Criticize with Kindness: Philosopher Daniel Dennett on the Four Steps to Arguing Intelligently
Maria Popova · 2,896 views today · “Just how charitable are you supposed to be when criticizing the views of an opponent?”
Alan Watts: What If Money Was No Object?
3 min · 2,646 views today · How do you like to spend your life? What do you desire? What if money didn't matter? What if money was no object? What would you like to do if money were no object? Spoken...
What It Really Means to Hold Space for Someone
Heather Plett · 2,132 views today · How to be there for the people who need you most
10 Shocking Facts About Society That We Absurdly Accept As Normal
Joe Martino · 1,875 views today · When you take a moment and look around at the world, things can appear pretty messed up. Take 5 or 10 minutes and watch the 6 o’clock news. Chances are, the entire time, all...
Throw (2016)
10 min · 1,569 views today · The first installment of Invisible Thread, an ongoing ELM passion project series, Throw tells the story of an outsider from East Baltimore, an area challenged by gang violence...
A City Open to Migration and Diversity?
2 min · 1,551 views today · We speak to Thomas Jézéquel of Eurocities about what the city of Gdańsk can teach us.
Load More
Like us on Facebook?
The End of Work?