Work and Non-Work. On Work and Meaning

Mio Lindman

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral ThesisMonograph


It may seem self-evident that employment is crucial to a happy life and that job creation is a central societal concern. However, this dissertation suggests that work is neutralized when it is understood simply as a valuable societal asset or as an individual life project, while its existential, ethical and political significance in a specific life situation is ignored. One example of such neutralization is when the importance of work is reduced to the importance of “having a job”, whatever its practical content or purposes. To challenge such neutralizations, the author looks at the tension within the conceptions of work (necessity, hard work and self-realization are three examples) which underlie them. The danger of such neutralization is that political and existential worries about work and the working life are swept under the rug. The book aims to repoliticize work by looking at it as an essentially contested concept. The author suggests that important aspects of work are revealed within such contestations of the role of work in our lives and that tensions can be a fruitful point of departure for resisting neutralizations of work. All chapters are structured around dialogues with critical accounts of work, including those of Hannah Arendt, André Gorz, Kathi Weeks, Simone Weil, Raimond Gaita, Karl Marx and Richard Sennett. What does it mean to say that society has been invaded by necessity? What does it mean to imagine a society beyond wage labor? Is it a utopia or a dystopia to think about work as a limitless activity? What is at stake when work becomes a commodity on the market? What are the hazards of fragmentation of work? 

Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Print ISBNs987-951-765-786-0
Electronic ISBNs978-951-765-787-7
Publication statusPublished - 2015
MoE publication typeG4 Doctoral dissertation (monograph)

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