For most people the word work is synonymous with jobs, labor and occupations. The things we do to pay the rent. The mundane routine can often overshadow the nuances of the work that we do.
In this talk at RMIT in Melbourne, philosopher Alain de Botton reminds us of the importance of appreciating the details of work and workplaces. In this way we can have a greater understanding of the impact our daily tasks have on culture and society, or perhaps decide that it's time for a new career.
Alain de Botton
Alain de Botton is a British writer and television producer who employs a philosophical and accessible approach to examining a variety of subjects from the abstract--love and happiness--to the material--architecture.
In August 2008, he founded an unconventional new educational establishment in central London called The School of Life, which offers intelligent instruction on how to lead a fulfilled life. De Botton is a frequent contributor to numerous newspapers, journals and magazines and is a member of the Arts Council of England's literature panel.
De Botton owns and helps run his own production company, Seneca Productions, which regularly broadcasts television documentaries based on his work. His most recent book, The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, is an examination of the modern workplace and the role work has played in our lives throughout history.
Michael Leunig is known as a cartoonist, philosopher, poet and artist. His commentary on political, cultural and emotional life spans thirty-five years and has often explored the idea of an innocent and sacred personal world.
He describes his approach as regressive, messy and vaudevillian - producing work which is both raw and sublime, loved and hated. His themes and images have been widely used and adapted in the realms of music, theatre, therapy, religious life and spirituality.
Alain de Botton, author of The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work, discusses lessons he learned from observing workers at a United Biscuits factory in the UK.
According to Botton, highly specialized jobs lead to a sense of aimlessness in many workers. "The problem of the modern world...is it becomes very, very hard to see the impacts that you have on anybody's life."
Author Alain de Botton discusses the taboo of sexual relations between coworkers.
He draws comparisons between the Catholic Church’s stance on sex to the polices found at many places of work. "What the large corporation has to deny is the idea that sex might be more fun than work," says Botton.
Author Alain de Botton says routine work allows us to impose order, provides us a distraction from thoughts of deaths and permits us to be something "slightly better than we manage to be in our day-to-day life."
Industry that provides services rather than goods. Economists divide the products of all economic activity into two broad categories, goods and services. Industries that produce goods (tangible objects) include agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction. Service industries include everything else: banking, communications, wholesale and retail trade, all professional services such as engineering and medicine, all consumer services, and all government services. The proportion of the world economy devoted to services rose rapidly in the 20th century. In the U.S. alone, the service sector accounted for more than half the gross domestic product in 1929, two-thirds in 1978, and more than three-quarters in 1993. Worldwide, the service sector accounted for more than three-fifths of global gross domestic product by the early 21st century. As increases in automation facilitate productivity, a smaller workforce is able to produce more goods, and the service functions of distribution, management, finance, and sales become relatively more important.