Posts Tagged ‘work’
Everyone must work. So they say.
Here’s André Gorz, in Reclaiming Work: Beyond the Wage-Based Society:
The imperative need for a sufficient, regular income is one thing. The need to act, to strive, to test oneself against others and be appreciated by others is quite another. Capitalism systemically links the two, conflates them, and upon that conflation establishes capital’s power and its ideological hold on people’s minds. It admits no activity which is not ‘work’, done to order and paid for by those ordering it. It admits no regular income that is not earned from ‘work’. The imperative need for a regular income is used to persuade people of their ‘imperative need to work’. The need to act, to strive, to be appreciated is used to persuade people that they need to be paid for whatever they do.
And here is Kathi Weeks, in The Problem With Work:
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I get very frustrated by our discourse around jobs. Part of that is because both parties insist that they are very concerned with job creation while pushing policies that produce unemployment. That’s really frustrating. Part of it us because each side accuses of the other of not caring about jobs while not doing much about jobs. That’s also really frustrating.
But that’s not what I want to talk about.
One disclaimer ought to be entered at the outset. We have already suggest that relief giving is partly designed to enforce work. Our argument, however, is not against work. We take it for granted that all societies require productive contributions from most of their members, and that all societies develop mechanisms to ensure that those contributions will be made. In the market economy, the giving of relief is one such mechanism. But much more should be understood of this mechanism than merely that it reinforces work norms. It also goes far toward defining and enforcing the terms on which different classes of people are made to do different kinds of work; relief arrangements, in other words, have a great deal to do with maintaining social and economic inequities. The indignities and cruelties of the dole are no deterrent to indolence among the rich; but for the poor person, the specter of ending up on “the welfare” or in “the poorhouse” makes any job at any wage a preferable alternative. And so the issue is not the relative merit of work itself; it is rather how some people are made to do the harshest work for the least reward.
Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Regulating the Poor.