Why Work?: The Perceptions of a "Real Job" and the Rhetoric of Work through the Ages

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03/05/2008
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Purdue University Press

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All paid jobs absorb and degrade the mind. - AristotleOnly by strict specialization can the scientific worker become fully conscious. -- Max WeberNo race can prosper till it learns that there is as much dignity in tilling a field as in writing a poem. - Booker T. WashingtonThe group must always dictate the modes of activity for the individual. -- Mary Parker FollettWhy Work: The Perceptions of "A Real Job" and the Rhetoric of Work through the Ages explores the contemporary cultural construction of work, beginning with the expression, "A Real Job." Over time, the concept of "work" was thought to be inherently understood by those who examined societal structures and human interactions. Today, the concept is more transient, and past definitions can be regarded as lacking because the concept of "work" arose from the particulars of an environment. This volume examines "work" in the writings of Aristotle, Plato, Confucius, St. Benedict, Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Booker T. Washington, W.E.B. Du Bois, Mother Jones, Emma Goldman, Emile Durkheim, Max Weber, Frederick Winslow Taylor, and Mary Parker Follett to answer the question, "Can the concept of work be divorced from the thinker's past?" A final chapter re-examines the core issue in light of the varying concept of "work" and ask one more time "why work?" This work is a result of an Honors seminar at Purdue University.