Filed under: chronotopes | Tags: family, industrial revolution, Justin E. H. Smith, Lapham's Quarterly, work, Working Arrangement
photo: Douglas Adesco
Family values derive logically from the Industrial Revolution which own values were to procure labour, with transportation to the place of work, with domestic arrangements (and the assumption of the nurture that may give). That may be the only concession to the pre revolution world social networks and entanglements: a dim, all but extinguished sign of what may have existed as a rich set of social realities.
The nuclear family is a recent invention. As an arrangement that, ideally, isolates a man, woman, and a few children within a single, economically autonomous domestic unit, with only casual or symbolic ties to friends and extended family, it does not seem to predate the Industrial Revolution and the rapid urbanization that followed it. Indeed, the expectation that everyone should find a place in such an arrangement appears to be Fordist in origin: the same vision of the future that caused us to believe that everyone might have a place in a system of production, might commute to it in an automobile, and might return home at the end of the day to a freestanding domicile with a family inside.
Working Arrangement, Justin E. H. Smith, Lapham’s Quarterly
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: economy, erich fromm, life, markets, work
Photo: Lise Sarfati
Modern people are commodities; disconnected from self, others and nature; their virtual only focus is exchange of personhood with other persons on the market. Life is subsumed in these market processes: packaging and moving personhood as a product, negotiating exchanges and consuming.
What of life, real life? What other goals, principles satisfactions?
Modern man has transformed himself into a commodity; he experiences his life energy as an investment with which he should make the highest profit, considering his position and the situation on the personality market. He is alienated from himself, from his fellow men and from nature. His main aim is profitable exchange of his skills, knowledge, and of himself, his “personality package” with others who are equally intent on a fair and profitable exchange. Life has no goal except the one to move, no principle except the one of fair exchange, no satisfaction except the one to consume.
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: arbejdsglæde, japan, Scandanavia, United States, work
Work happiness = Scandanavia
Death from overwork = Japan
Job hate = United States
We work half our waking lives. Let’s see, where shall I live?
While the English and Danish languages have strong common roots, there are of course many words that exist only in one language and not in the other. And here’s a word that exists only in Danish and not in English: arbejdsglæde. Arbejde means work and glæde means happiness, so arbejdsglæde is “happiness at work.” This word also exists in the other Nordic languages (Swedish, Norwegian, Finnish and Icelandic) but is not in common use in any other language on the planet.
For instance, where we Scandinavians have arbejdsglæde, the Japanese instead have karoshi, which means “Death from overwork.” And this is no coincidence; there is a word for it in Danish because Danish workplaces have a long-standing tradition of wanting to make their employees happy. To most Danes, a job isn’t just a way to get paid; we fully expect to enjoy ourselves at work.
The U.S. attitude towards work is often quite different. A few years ago I gave a speech in Chicago, and an audience member told me that “Of course I hate my job, that’s why they pay me to do it!” Many Americans hate their jobs and consider this to be perfectly normal. Similarly, many U.S. workplaces do little or nothing to create happiness among employees, sticking to the philosophy that “If you’re enjoying yourself, you’re not working hard enough.”
Filed under: brave new world, departure lounge, the sweet life | Tags: Alexander Kjerulf, bosses, happiness, job, work, workers
A high power distance makes people unhappy. This happens when your boss is empowered to make unchallenged edicts that everyone must not question and must obediently follow. The US has a power distance of 40, which is high.
A low power distance means power is much more evenly distributed and a bosses direction is given and taken more as a suggestion than a command. It results in an increased sense of autonomy and worker investment in his workplace.
From Fast Company:
In the U.S., if your boss gives you an order, you pretty much do what you’re told. In a Danish workplace, extremely few direct orders are ever given and employees are more likely to view them as suggestions.
Dutch sociologist Geert Hofstede has quantified the business culture in more than 100 countries on several parameters, one of which is “power distance.” A high power distance means that bosses are undisputed kings whose every word is law. U.S. workplaces have a power distance of 40 while Danish workplaces—with a score of 18—have the lowest power distance in the world.
This means that Danish employees experience more autonomy and are more empowered at work. Here’s just one example: By law, any Danish workplace with more than 35 employees must open up seats on the board for employees, who are elected to the board by their peers and serve on an equal footing and with same voting powers as all other board members.
Simple office policies that make Danish workers way more happy than Americans, Alexander Kjerulf, Fast Company
Filed under: brave new world | Tags: Daniel Goleman, emotional intelligence, empathy, leadership, work
To be a leader – in this view below – you must: see yourself, rule yourself, see others, act altruistically, and organize people. There’s a heavy emphasis on charisma, self and action, and a cursory mention of others.
Curiously no mention at all of knowledge or vision: in this view what you know of yourself is more important than what you know of the world. So much so that knowledge of the world isn’t even mentioned. Is this a case of “the worst / Are full of passionate intensity”? Charisma is all you need in the age of sheep.
I think a leader pulls us into new places. The rope attached to a dog’s collar is a lead. The whole purpose is wagging your tail on the way to the new place.
Calvino describes the “agile… poet-philosopher who raises himself above the weight of the world, showing that with all his gravity he has the secret of lightness, and that what many consider to be the vitality of the times – noisy, aggressive, revving and roaring – belongs to the realm of death.” A leader pulls us up to a place of lightness and life.
The fatally incomplete list:
What Makes a Leader? Daniel Goleman
Filed under: the sweet life | Tags: boredom, division of labour, How to Be Free, Tom Hodgkinson, work
Here’s a case for finding enjoyable autonomous work. It’s probably impossible to find it for 100% of your day / week / year / life, but maybe 50% or 40% or maybe much less. Anyway whatever the number you are lucky enough to achieve, increasing the proportion should help to decrease boredom.
Boredom was invented in 1760. That is the year, according to academic Lars Svendsen in his excellent study A Philosophy of Boredom (2005), that the word was first used in English. The other great invention of the time was the Spinning Jenny, which heralded the start of the Industrial Revolution. In other words, boredom arrives with the division of labour and the transformation of enjoyable autonomous work into tedious slave-work.
Tom Hodgkinson, How to Be Free, p 18