Towards a Critical Appraisal of Work in Ecological Economics: A Moral Economy Perspective
18 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2022
In this paper, we critically assess common perceptions of work to inform current debates on work in ecological economics from a moral economy perspective. Due to veiled moral assumptions, work is usually uncritically conceived as (1) a productive activity (2) that satisfies consumer demand, (3) is conducive to health and well-being, and (4) ensures social inclusion and personal development. Drawing on the burgeoning literature of ‘postwork’ or critiques of work, we demonstrate that work may rather be understood as a biophysically intense, consumption-causing, heteronomous institution, with ambivalent health impacts, that stabilises societies in environmentally and socially unsustainable ways. A social-ecological transformation thus requires to fundamentally question modern-day work. Ecological economics could therefore greatly gain from a more critical perspective on work.
Keywords: work, employment, postwork, critique of work, moral economy, Ecological Economics, sustainability
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