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Title: Why Work? A Critical Exposition of Work-Society
Authors: Trovik, Johan Andreas
Advisors: Müller, Jan-Werner
Contributors: Politics Department
Keywords: capitalism
civic service
universal basic income
welfare state
Subjects: Political science
Issue Date: 2022
Publisher: Princeton, NJ : Princeton University
Abstract: This dissertation addresses contemporary concern over transformations of work. First, it develops a perspective on work to help us interpret its contemporary transformations and assess their normative salience. Second, it presents a novel approach for how to confront these transformations. This dissertation argues that time has come to abandon the imperatives of work. Work-society has failed. Indeed, it was never able to live up to its promises. In short, a critique of work-society is developed here in two parts. In part one, I provide an account of work and of work-society. In part two, I develop and defend an alternative. I approach work as a tripartite social institution. Work unites: (a) the practice through which we understand ourselves to perform a certain kind of necessary social function, with being (b) the only properly legitimate means to an income, and (c) a significant source of meaning. Part one is an attempt at the same time to unpack the meaning of this institution and to unsettle what I describe as work-society’s functionalist common sense, according to which work is a distinctively necessary institution. Against its naturalising tendencies, I provide a social constructivist model of work. By unpacking the institution, I present a perspective on our society as work-society; at the same time, I show how the material structures, social imaginary, and ideology of work-society is related to each part of the institution as its grounds. On the one hand, work-society emerges as a society where the institution of work operates as an organising principle. On the other hand, the institution of work is produced and put together by work-society itself. Based on this denaturalised account of the institution of work, I then in part two develop an argument for its abolition. On the social constructivist model, abolishing work involves asking how, when freed from thinking of them necessarily fused in work, we should try to realise each end the institution serves independently. Justifying this “disassembling” of work in turn means showing how new institutions could take better care of each aspect now understood to constitute work; abolishing work requires constructing post-“work-society”.
Alternate format: The Mudd Manuscript Library retains one bound copy of each dissertation. Search for these copies in the library's main catalog:
Type of Material: Academic dissertations (Ph.D.)
Language: en
Appears in Collections:Politics

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