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Does anyone enjoy work?

November 21, 2014

Here was a reply I made to a yahoo post about how many people are happy in their work in the various towns and cities of the UK:

Only a small minority are actually happy in their work, I believe. Many others might claim to be happy, but they are only doing so to save face, and because they are scared of the alternatives. Either unemployment and the lack of dignity that comes with that, or finding another job. For me the biggest sham in this era is that we are all expected to identify with our jobs, as if we are doing them by personal choice, when we all know it is external compulsion in most cases. And the only incentive to work is to pursue material gains. So this over time selects out the most materialistically minded people to be successful at work. There is no enjoyment in any of this, we are just torturing each other, all out of bravado to save face.

This really is probably one of the most intriguing and critical problems in social science: that despite all the technological advancements made in the 20th Century people are still finding themselves by and large in a situation of having to make a hard graft at work in unsatisfying jobs performing unsatisfying tasks. How can this be? Are we as humans perverse by nature, and we like to make things difficult for ourselves? Is it that there is always a pressure from more impoverished parts of the world in this globalized economy that forces us to have to compete? Or do we simply not know how to control the impulsive side of our nature except when in a crisis, and so only when we are in a stark situation of survival does it hit home that we will have to change how we act?

Some subtle and all-pervasive mechanism is at work here throughout society that is making things this way. And until we can start to gain some more understanding and awareness of it, it is going to continue to control our working lives, making them predominately a struggle in a state of either misery, or at best of disinterest.

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