Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ideas and Work

Having just written about ideas and economic systems, it seems appropriate to insert a few words regarding ideas and work. (Work = the exchanging of labor, skill, or specialized knowledge for pay; domestic labor, volunteer work, and yard "work" do not count for purposes of this blog entry)

So, what sorts of ideas do people have about work? Where do those ideas come from? What impact do they have? Are the ideas actually good ideas, and how would we know?

Here are some types of ideas that people have about work:

1. The meaning of work
2. The plight of the regular, average worker
3. Worker's rights - and their responsibilities to employerrs
4. Employer responsibilities to workers - and employer rights
5. Mythical beliefs about certain types of work - writers make tons of money, working for yourself as an Internet entrepreneur is a fast, easy way to succeed

What is the meaning of work? There are many opinions on this question. Work is simply what we do to pay the bills and make a little extra "fun" money. Work is, or should be, a major source of meaning in peoples' lives. (Funny how this idea is shared by capitalists and Marxists!) In some cultures, work is seen as punishment, so people do as little as they can. In other cultures work, in the modern sense, does not exist. People just labor to survive.

What are the sources of these ideas about work? That idea, and others we have about work, come from the mass media, school, parents, and peer groups. For example. magazine articles, books, and television shows all promote the image of "climbing the corporate ladder" as a desirable, manly goal. Some women's magazines have helped create a womanly version of the same idea.

Going back to items 3 and 4 above. Maybe you can think of some of the rights and responsibilites of both workers and their employers. Give it a try! If you have colleagues or friends from different cultural backgrounds, try comparing ideas with them. If you do this little exercise, I'd apperciate hearing the results. Just post a comment here.


Blogger Blog Intro said...

Intorduced! on

12:22 PM  

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