On Friday 20 November, from 12-1.30 pm PT, Elizabeth Anderson (Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and John Dewey Distinguished University Professor of Philosophy and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan), will be giving a talk titled “The Work Ethic: Its Origins, Legacy, and Future.” Mark Brilliant (History, UC Berkeley) will moderate. Please RSVP here Opens in new tab, and see below for further details.
“The work ethic was invented by Puritan ministers in the 17th century. At the turn of the 20th century, sociologist Max Weber argued that it trapped workers in an “iron cage” of meaningless drudgery for the sake of interminable wealth accumulation. In the 21st century, anarchist anthropologist David Graeber has condemned it for consigning workers to “bullshit jobs.” They are only half right. At its origins, the work ethic contained principles that could be, and were, developed in both pro-worker and reactionary directions. This talk highlights the forgotten pro-worker history of the work ethic and considers its promise for today. Puritan principles offer a surprisingly astute critique of contemporary neoliberal capitalism.”