For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The end or the apotheosis of “labor”? Hannah Arendt's contribution to the question of the good life in times of global superfluity of human labor power"

by Lenz, Claudia; Postl, Gertrude (2005)


This paper relates Arendt's critique of a labor society to her thoughts on the “good life.” I begin with the claim that in the post-mass production era, Western societies, traditionally centered around gainful employment, encounter a decrease in the relevance of labor and can thus no longer rely on it as a resource for individual or social meaning. From Arendt's perspective, however, the current situation allows for the possibility of a transition from a society based on labor to a society centered around activities. I explore Arendt's different types of activities—labor, work, action—with respect to the question of justice between the genders.

Key Passage

What is most impressive in The Human Condition is the visionary foresight of Arendt’s analysis of a labor society and its approaching end. (p.135)


Arendt, Globalisation, Good Life, Mass Production, Technology, Activities, Gender, Industrialisation


On Arendt

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