Anti-Work : Psychological Investigations into Its Truths, Problems, and Solutions book cover
1st Edition

Psychological Investigations into Its Truths, Problems, and Solutions

ISBN 9780367758592
Published November 30, 2021 by Routledge
284 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

The first book to delineate anti-work in a systematic fashion by identifying and compiling positions from a wide spread of literature, Anti- Work: Psychological Investigations into Its Truths, Problems, and Solutions defines the tenets of anti-work, reviews them from a psychological and historical point of view, and offers solutions to aid the average person in his or her struggle with work.

Anti-work thinkers have vigorously argued that work entails a submission of the human will that is constraining and even ultimately damaging. The author has refined 18 tenets of anti-work from the literature, which range from the suggestion that all jobs are bad, to the remarkable ability of modern capitalist enterprises to build "job engagement" among workers, to the proposal of alternative work- deemphasized worlds. Anti-Work begins with a discussion of these tenets, in particular the submission of the will required by work, followed by an overview of topics such as worker resistance, merit, and precarious work. The second part of the book unfolds various possible human responses to the work problem, such as detachment, thinking while working, and right livelihood. In the third part, several lessons about anti-work are drawn from parables, koans, and tales. Discussions of cults and work, working from home, unions, and cooperatives, as well as lessons from Buddhism, Hinduism, and Christianity, offer additional perspectives on the topic of work and provide guidance on developing a helpful attitude toward it.

By highlighting the tensions that exist between anti-work and pro-work positions, the book provides new ways to view and plan life, and will give thought- provoking and valuable insights for students, instructors, and practitioners in industrial and organizational psychology and related fields, as well as all people who have worked, will work, have never worked, or will never work.

Table of Contents

Part I. In Which Anti-work is Given Serious Consideration 1. The Tenets of Anti-work. 2. Will, Bosses, and Consciousness. 3. Cults and Working from Home. 4. The Asymmetry of At Will Employment and the Loss of Autonomy. 5. The Unique Submission Required for Precarious Work. 6. Merit Misfires. 7. Pushing Back. 8. The Doubtful Horizon. Part II. In Which We Reflect on Some Possible Realities and Responses 9. Science and the Ox: Understanding Work and Workers. 10. Representing the Worker: What We Might Do. 11. Detachment: Lessons from the Bhagavad-Gita. 12. Alignment of Efforts: Teilhard de Chardin. 13. Thinking While You Work: Simone Weil. 14. Right Livelihood. 15. Note on Unions and Cooperatives. Part III. Coda: Lessons from Parables, Koans and Tales. Conclusion

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George M. Alliger has had over 60 articles published in journals such as Journal of Management, Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Psychological Science, and Times Higher Education. He is an editor of The Handbook of Work Analysis. A fellow of the Society for Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Alliger is now a Consulting Psychologist in the Houston area.


"Drawing from thinkers as varied and vital as Simone Weil and Frédéric Lordon, Karl Marx and Frederick Taylor, Buddhist sages and Hasidic masters, George Alliger has written an eloquent and insightful series of reflections on the culture of work. Not only does Alliger offer a compelling meditation on how we worked yesterday and how we work today, but also proposes, in clear and cogent language, how we might all, by a more human and humane approach, work better in the future." –Robert Zaretsky, University of Houston, USA