[LI] Jobs as problem; work as broken; jobs not as work

Three different items posted to LinkedIn about work, jobs, and the two confounded. This space seems in tumult, in part because of rise of intelligent automation. However it would certainly help to think more clearly about work and jobs being separate concepts, even as they are related (the latter a subset of the former). 

Jobs aren’t the solution to America’s problems—they’re the cause (“Your job can’t save you now”), by James Livingston, Quartz, 4 September 2017 (posted September 2017)

James Livingston’s interesting essay on “work.” But work means many things, some essential. Jobs=paid work≠all work

The way we think about work is broken,” Barry Schwartz, TED Talk , March 2014 (posted 14 September 2017)

Like Barry Schwartz’s TED talk on how we think of work. But don’t agree “we wouldn’t work if we didn’t get paid”

(my comment)

Some kinds of work are certainly done because or mainly because one is paid for it, as Prof. Schwartz points out. These are jobs. Some or many jobs also provide fulfillment, But there are of course other kinds of work done not for pay, but for other reasons – family, service, fulfillment. Need to separate out “work” and “jobs” in such discussions.

 

Why jobs of the future won’t feel like work,” David Lee, TED Talk, July 2017 (posted October 2017)

David Lee scratches the surface of some important issues in his interesting TED talk. However he, like most of us, is constrained by categories and meanings that we’ve inherited. For example, “work” and “job” aren’t the same. Should we think of “work” as something necessarily arduous and preferably avoidable (as implied in his title), or as encompassing a whole range of activities that transform, develop, or even just maintain what is important to us? Work may also create value and incur cost, all without ever involving a paycheck.

So what is a “job”? Perhaps a kind of work that creates value for someone else, and generates income for us? A key question behind all of this is what is the value created by jobs, and when automation takes over some of that activity, what is left to create? Is there a point where jobs will become obsolete in the wake of automation, even as there are forms of work – including new forms – that people may do? And how will the means to support a good life be connected from automated production of value to people finding forms of work meaningful to them? How will organizations – so central to coordinating production of value – change?

It seems we’re on the cusp of a major paradigm shift with many such questions to consider.

(my comment)

Lee’s reference to a particular quote by Chicago Prof. Harry Davis led me to track down the original, which I found in an interesting article: https://www.chicagobooth.edu/magazine/35/3/feature3.aspx


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