Work – Do we need to redefine it?

I finished teaching Public Administration Theory class this week (for a 11 week term)and one of the themes in this course was ‘The Future of PA’. Given the talk of Artificial Intelligence and challenges of governance, I touched upon the issue of work and how that is likely to change, in the future.

With more productivity, less work and fewer jobs, perhaps there will be unemployment. There is also likely to be different kinds of (newer) jobs created, as a result of technological shifts.

What this means is that work as we may know may not exist. I don’t mean to exaggerate, but at its extreme, we may need to redefine how and what we mean by work. Of course, there will be teachers, lawyers, doctors, engineers, barbers, masseuse etc. but their work will most likely be aided by or in some case replaced by intelligent robots or technologies.15621

In a short book titled ‘Social policy and social justice,’ that I am reading, the authors make a case for expanding the definition of work to include non-labor market jobs such as caring for one’s parents, volunteering etc. as ‘work.’ There may be a greater demand for such jobs in the future, as populations age, life expectancy increases etc.

Thinking of work as only income producing activities is a limiting idea, they argue. In this ‘post work society’ we may need a different currency such as ‘civic money’ rather than just hard cash, as a means of exchange.

What do you think?

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