Journal Article — A Lifetime of Labor: A Sociological Imagination of Work as Life — by Stacey Melchin

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Abstract

This is a critical reflection on the sociology of work in a sociological imagination framework, involving an effort to critically analyze my work experience in light of various sociological perspectives, concepts, and literature. Each day, nearly every person on this planet works. This may be hard to believe when thinking in terms of the basic, more stereotypical idea of work: getting woken up early in the morning by an alarm clock and rushing off to a paid job. However, work is actually a very complex system which everybody takes part in. If we, as members of a capitalist culture, begin to see life every day as a group of tasks–some we enjoy and maybe some not so much–we may begin to value each person in society equally for the work they do and become more “human” in the process. The idea of blurring the lines between paid and unpaid work in a positive way and valuing each of them is something that might slow the progressive dehumanization of our capitalist culture. Over the years, we have become programmed as a society to only value money, and in turn, to value the idea of hard work and constant work as the norm. This idea has caused irreparable damage which has shown itself in increased divorce rates, less empathy and sympathy for our common person, high rates of crime including murder and the senseless war we are currently involved in. If we as a society and as humans could begin to value care work and see the significance of unpaid work in general, maybe we could begin to correct many of the mistakes we have made.

Recommended Citation

Melchin, Stacey. 2008. “A Lifetime of Labor: A Sociological Imagination of Work as Life.” Pp. 197-206 in Sociological Imaginations from the Classroom: Plus A Symposium on the Sociology of Science Perspectives on the Malfunctions of Science and Peer Reviewing (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VI, Issue 2, 2008.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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