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The changing nature of work

The changing nature of work
Frances Coppola explores how increasing automation is fundamentally shifting the nature of work away from 'making stuff' towards personal services. One of the most interesting issues to arise in the course of the "comment-athon" on my post "The Golden Calf" was the suggestion that the link between money and work is broken, and indeed that there is no longer a reliable link between "earning" and working. This is a logical consequence of two things: firstly, increased automation of production means the number of people needed to produce enough goods to meet people's basic needs is declining; secondly, an increasing number of people do considerable amounts of pro bono" work that is directly beneficial to society. Of course, there has always been pro bono work. Middle-class women have also traditionally worked unpaid outside the home, as well, as have retired gentlemen. We also know that many middle-aged women have their paid work curtailed by the need to care for elderly relatives.

Related:  Workplace and robotsJobs - workFutur du Travail

Basic income vs capitalism On the one hand, the merits of a guaranteed income for all seem clear: - It would be simple to administer, which should appeal to governments wanting to cut "wasteful" public spending. - In giving an unconditional income to all, workers would be able to take on insecure jobs, training, internships or zero-hours jobs without fear of losing their benefits. In this sense, A BI underpins the flexible labour market. - A BI could free people to do voluntary work, thus helping to promote the "Big Society." - In replacing tax credits, A BI could well be associated with lower marginal withdrawal rates (pdf) than at present.

To Work Better, Work Less Between 1853 and 1870, Baron Haussmann ordered much of Paris to be destroyed. Slums were razed and converted to bourgeois neighborhoods, and the formerly labyrinthine city became a place of order, full of wide boulevards (think Saint-Germain) and angular avenues (the Champs-Élysées). Poor Parisians tried to put up a fight but were eventually forced to flee, their homes knocked down with minimal notice and little or no recompense. The city underwent a full transformation—from working class and medieval to bourgeois and modern—in less than two decades' time.

A World Without Work 1. Youngstown, U.S.A. The end of work is still just a futuristic concept for most of the United States, but it is something like a moment in history for Youngstown, Ohio, one its residents can cite with precision: September 19, 1977. For much of the 20th century, Youngstown’s steel mills delivered such great prosperity that the city was a model of the American dream, boasting a median income and a homeownership rate that were among the nation’s highest. What If Everybody Didn't Have to Work to Get Paid? Scott Santens has been thinking a lot about fish lately. Specifically, he’s been reflecting on the aphorism, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.”

Redistribution and the Hollow Middle Class Miles Kimball has made an interesting economic case for why there is much greater benefit of redistribution from the middle class to the poor than from the rich to the middle class. While this makes intuitive sense, I think it has important implications for how we view things such as universal benefits and indeed how we frame the discussion on redistribution. First, I would like to address the arguments that are usually made in favour of universal benefits. Employees spending £1 in every £8 earned on going to work with costs adding up to nearly £2,000 a year By Tara Evans Published: 11:28 GMT, 7 January 2013 | Updated: 11:28 GMT, 7 January 2013 The average employee spends one pound in every eight earned on costs relating to their job, adding up to £1,833 a year, research revealed today.

Understanding Society: Marx's thinking about technology It sometimes seems as though there isn't much new to say about Marx and his theories. But, like any rich and prolific thinker, that's not actually true. Two articles featured in the Routledge Great Economists series (link) are genuinely interesting. Both are deeply scholarly treatments of interesting aspects of the development of Marx's thinking, and each sheds new light on the influences and thought processes through which some of Marx's key ideas took shape. I will consider one of those articles here and leave the second, a consideration of Marx's relationship to the physiocrats, for a future post. Regina Roth's "Marx on technical change in the critical edition" (link) is a tour-de-force in Marx scholarship.

Viewpoint: Why do people waste so much time at the office? - BBC News The workplace is where people go to work. But much of the day is increasingly padded out with less productive activities, writes Peter Fleming. A few years ago a disturbing story appeared in the media that seemed to perfectly capture the contemporary experience of work and its ever increasing grip over our lives: "Man Dies at Office Desk - Nobody Notices for Five Days". The case was unnerving for one reason mainly.

"If people are intrinsically of value, then they have the right to survive with or without working".... by noosquest May 14