My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual

Al Gini, Author
Al Gini, Author Routledge $35 (280p) ISBN 978-0-415-92635-5
Paperback - 266 pages - 978-0-415-92636-2
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In this entertaining and thoughtful meditation on the nature of work in human life, Gini (a Loyola University philosophy professor) careers between the philosophical (quoting Pope John Paul II and Pope Pius XII as well as G.K. Chesterton) and the practical (ruminating on social philosopher Jeremy Rifkin's contention that computers--the ""third industrial revolution""--will mean the end of work in the future). At the heart of his book is the complex relationship between human behavior, social organization and the need to practice meaningful work. In a sprightly chronology, he traces attitudes toward work throughout Western history--from the Greeks, who looked down on physical labor as antithetical to philosophy, to the Protestant work ethic invented by Luther and Calvin, to the 18th-century Luddites who destroyed machines in protest against losing their jobs, and the robber barons who quoted scripture to justify inhumanely long work hours--before deftly turning to contemporary U.S. attitudes. Drawing upon such diverse sources as labor statistics about women in the workplace, publications of Workaholics Anonymous, nationwide polls about job satisfaction and the writings of William James, Gini paints a nuanced and scholarly portrait of Americans' response to the place of work in their lives, acknowledging that as the nature and meaning of work changes, people still need ""a vision that recognizes and honors the precept that, minimally, work must do two things--maintain life and add to it."" (June)
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