Friday, 19 June 2009

Schumacher on work

I’ve lately been reading a lot of Distributist works and somewhat in line with that study I’ve just begun reading a little book, ‘Good Work’ by E.F. Schumacher, author of ‘Small is Beautiful’. It consists of the texts of several talks he gave in America in the mid seventies about the role of work in our lives.

In the prologue he makes the striking point that despite the centrality of work in our lives few politics, sociology or even economics textbooks include a theory of work as one of their basic elements. This certainly is a curious omission, and I think the “system’s” givens are often the things we should most urgently examine, generally they turn out to serve a few people’s interests at the expense of the many.

Schumacher goes on to provide his own theory of work, it’s much like the Distributists’ and it’s one with which I agree. He identifies three purposes to human work: to produce necessary and useful goods and services; to enable us to use and develop our skills and interests; and to serve and collaborate with other people so as to find community and fellowship. Very few are lucky enough to be able to tick all three boxes, sadly.

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