Lecture 7 November 10, 2009
Work & Class:
What is Work?
- John Kenneth Galibrith -> Suggests we need to work on our vocabulary because “work” has so
many meanings. The term doesn’t do it justice.
- Reinhart -> Work is an activity central to lives of human beings and differentiates us from other
forms of life. Only humans can take raw things from the environment and in the process change
their nature and uses. It has a profound impact on us. Employed adults spend a third of their
time on the job. Work shapes our personality, offers sense of accomplishment, meaningfulness,
source of pride or shame.
- “Work” is a contested concept in social science.
- Burton Russell -> There is 2 kinds of work. 1) Involves altering the position of matter. 2) Involves
telling others to do things. The first type of work tends to be unpleasant, poorly paid, and
dangerous. The second tends to be pleasant, well paid, and usually safe. It is leisure not work
that advances the cause of civilization. There can be no leisure without work therefore the first
kind of work is necessary; however it should be spread around.
- Adam Smith-> Work is an activity requiring the worker to give up his tranquility, his freedom,
and his happiness.
- Mills Anderson -> work is a continuous employment in the production of goods and services, for
- Reinhart -> Work is any activity that entails the provision of goods and services for others.
Recognizes the importance of unpaid work. Provided the stimulus for stats Canada to measure
unpaid work in Canada. Unpaid work is equivalent to 40% of Canada’s GNP. Two thirds done by
women. Also includes volunteer work. It includes prison labor, and unpaid work that is done
around paid works (i.e. Prep time before a lecture.)
- Occupation determines: ability to get education, sustain health, enjoy leisure activities, maintain
oneself to community standards.
- Tragic consequences to being without work. It contributes to breakdown of relationships,
feeling of worthlessness.
- Work is essential to whom we are, and what we are.
- The nature of work is changing rapidly.
- Reinhart suggests workers that work under conditions where they mass produce something are
- Alienation is not psychological it is structural. It is built into structure of capitalist economy.
Everyone is alienated. - Origins in 3 sources. 1) The division of labor. 2) Increasing concentration of the ownership of the
means of production. 3) The development of markets in land, labor, and commodities.
- Manifests itself in 4 ways:
1) The product producing- don’t have control over what product will be.
2) Process by which product will be made – how many products, what colour, etc.
3) Themselves – less human because they no longer engage in fundamental human activity
where we are creators of what we make.
4) Alienated from others. – compete with other workers to sell what they have to sell.
Competition instead of sense of community.
- Alienated labor makes us less human, takes away from our control that which makes us human
- Its instrumental, means to another end.
- We express ourselves not through pride in our work but through commodities which we
purchase through the wages we earn through alienated work.
- Viewed as hierarchy, determined by the money you make, where you live etc.
- Met with a great deal of hostility
- U.S. sees themselves as a “classless society” However this isn’t true.
- A lot more residence in European society. Class tends to be viewed in terms of a social location.
Viewed more along the lines of Seabrook. How much control you have over your labor and other
- Class - Social group that shares certain charac