For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The poetics of meaningful work: An analogy to speech acts"

by Mei, Todd (2019)


Meaningful work refers to the idea that human work is an integral part of the way we think of our lives as going well. The concept is prevalent in sociology and business studies. In philosophy, its discussion tends to revolve around matters of justice and whether the State should take steps to eradicate meaningless work. However, despite the breadth of the recent, general literature, there is little to no discussion about how it is in fact the case that work is meaningful. There is a basic assumption that certain facts about work make it meaningful. After noting the shortcomings in the literature, this essay argues that we can better understand the production of meaning in work by an analogy to speech acts. Using Paul Ricoeurs theory of action as discourse, one can see how meaning is predicated in the performance of work in ways that are locutionary, illocutionary, and perlocutionary.


Meaningful Work, Ricoeur, Arendt, Sociology, Justice, Speech Acts


Meaningful Work

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