For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Dignity and Meaningful Work"

by Bowie, Norman E (2019)


The central importance of dignity for meaningful work justifies an obligation to provide meaningful work. This is because people have intrinsic worth as “dignity beyond price” and also because, through meaningful work, people experience themselves as dignified persons. In the Kantian formulation, people have dignity because they have the capacity for autonomy and self-government, and therefore can be held to be responsible. This chapter takes dignity to be based on such universal characteristics, and argues that since meaningful work is a route to dignity then we must pay attention to the ways in which we can ameliorate struggles to experience our dignity in work. The normative characteristics of work designed to promote rational capacities include freedom to choose and to exercise autonomy, and conditions for independence such as sufficient pay. Management practices are highlighted which meet such normative conditions. Examples include open book management, recruitment, training, and participatory practices.


Meaningful Work, Dignity, Kant, Autonomy, Rationality, Participatory Management


Meaningful Work

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