58 Pages Posted: 12 Oct 2006
The denigration of manual labor is a long, sad, captivating story of human civilization. No community can survive, let alone prosper, without the manual labor of farmers, industrial employees, construction workers, miners, and innumerable other men and women who toil to make everyone's day-to-day life possible. Yet a deeply entrenched prejudice against manual labor persists. Cultures and communities across the globe and throughout history have interwoven complex social, religious, and legal webs to create, maintain, and perpetuate a manual class that performs menial, difficult, and hazardous work. Weavers of these webs, including intellectual, political, and legal elites, personally benefit from the fruits of labor. These elites, however, also undervalue manual labor, nurturing a prejudice often made manifest in visible social realities. It is no mere coincidence that the manual class, providing socially indispensable physical labor, frequently ends up deprived of income, status, social respect, and even human dignity.
Keywords: manual labor, child labor, Convention on the Rights of the Child, Aristotle, karma, racism, feudal servitude
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Khan, Ali, The Dignity of Manual Labor. Columbia Human Rights Law Review, 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=936890