For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The Invention of Work in Modernity: Hegel, Marx, and Weber"

by Just, Daniel (2017)


Abstract In the modern era, a wide range of human activities has been redefined as work. This essay traces a genealogy of the modern conception of work, from early Protestant ethic of work as worship of God, through secularization of this ethic and the emergence of the idea of progress, to the later model of work as personal duty and source of stability. Analyzing Hegel, Marx, and Weber's interpretations of the growing centrality of work in the modern epoch, as well as later reflections on these interpretations by Kojève, Arendt, and Foucault, the paper argues that in modernity work is no longer a mere instrument of power and tool for repressing human life, but a mode of power of its own accord: a privileged means of shaping life by cultivating and regulating its productive potential. Modern society is reorganized according to the principles of productivity, efficiency, and economic welfare of population as a whole that recalibrate individual existence and posit virtually all activities as a form of work.


Centrality Of Work, Work Ethic, Power, Hegel, Marx, Weber, Foucault, Arendt


Work Ethic, Weber, Sociology of Work, On Hegel, History of Work

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