The End of Work?
By Evan Biy / filmsforaction.org
Feb 28, 2015

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
Trending Today
MP Says Government is Intentionally Making People Destitute to Prevent Organised Opposition
2 min23,926 views today ·
Every Town Needs a Remakery
Jeremy Williams17,499 views today ·
Stressed out? This Weird, Relaxing And Life-Affirming Video May Be Just What You Need
3 min15,553 views today ·
Have We Been Denying Our Human Nature for Four Hundred Years?
Lynn Parramore14,246 views today ·
How Wolves Change Rivers
4 min8,233 views today ·
Revolution and American Indians: “Marxism is as Alien to My Culture as Capitalism”
Russell Means6,875 views today ·
Love is Not Something That You Do - It is Something That You Can Become
1 min4,508 views today ·
Without Saying a Word This 6 Minute Clip From Samsara Will Make You Speechless
6 min4,067 views today ·
A Letter to Extremists
Nafeez Ahmed3,720 views today ·
Load More
New
'Disaster': Trump Administration Signs off on Keystone XL Pipeline
Nika Knight
Escape From Syria - Faiza's Story
5 min
A Letter to Extremists
Nafeez Ahmed
Muslims This, ISIS That
3 min
Visit Hawai'i - The Occupied State
2 min
Musician Macka B. Schools Us on Benefits of a Plant-Based Diet
4 min
Carnage (2017)
65 min
Why Recognizing Our Own Privilege Can Be so Hard
Chris Agnos
Love is Not Something That You Do - It is Something That You Can Become
1 min
Load More
What's Next
The Business of Being Born (2008)
122 min
Samsara (2011) (trailer)
1 min
Thom Hartmann: The story of the 5 Kings who rule America
10 min
Like us on Facebook?
The End of Work?