The Value/Meaning of Work

The society in which we all live seems to revolve around this idea that individuals must work. But why? Wouldn’t life be better without all the stress of having to worry about finding a job and and making a living doing that job almost every day of your life? On the other hand, it seems like having a job and working confers some sort of satisfaction that one’s life matters and makes a difference. But should we really derive meaning from our jobs?

When we examine the modern attitude towards work, we see that many of our values surrounding work come from the industrial revolution and the rise of a ‘working class’. But do these values, created for a population that mostly worked on factory assembly lines, serve us in a technologicaly based economy? For example, is money really the best incentive to get people to be more productive?

Finally, as we look towards the future, will work become obsolete as the world moves increasingly towards automation in many sectors of the economy? If so, what will people do with their time, and where will people find meaning in their lives? Check out this TED Radio hour on the meaning of work for some interesting ideas on the psychology and history of work. Also watch this video from CCP Grey on why automation is going to drastically alter our economy: Humans Need Not Apply.