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In Quest of a Job vs Engendering Employment

Explores possibilities of engendering employment and engagement beyond the commodification of jobs.

In Quest of a Job vs Engendering Employment
Dismal failure of economics and economists
Unfreezing categories and category innovation
Job seekers -- in quest of jobs
Requisite creativity
Re-enchantment of work in the 21st century
Reframing employment opportunities through richer metaphors
Learning metaphoric skills of relevance to employment
Periodic table of employment / engagement
Engendering employment through interactive social networking
Pattern language for engendering employment
Future of engagement and employment
Provocative afterthought: Learning from "swine flu"? viral marketing, viral engagement, viral employment

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In memory of a little boy with a stock of six matches, individually for sale, on the pavement
on the occasion of a congress of the World Futures Studies Federation (Cairo, 1978).


The current worldwide economic crisis, following the financial crisis of 2008, is making it increasingly evident that "jobs" as currently defined may become a "scarce resource" in society, even a "non-renewable resource". This would make the challenge "jobs" represent for the future to be of a similar nature to that of other resources -- such as land, water, food, energy, and the like. This was argued by Jeremy Rifkin (The End of Work: the decline of the global labor force and the dawn of the post-market era, 1995).

Worldwide unemployment at the end of 2009 is estimated by the ILO to range between 210 million and 230 million people (Global Employment Trends). The global youth population is at a historical high of more than 1.5 billion, with some 89 percent of these living in developing countries. Many are unable to secure decent work, as youth are on average three times as likely to be unemployed as adults. In the last ten years, the world's youth population grew by 10.5 percent while youth employment only grew by 0.2 percent (Global Youth Enterprise Conference, Washington DC, 2009). The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate in the European Union in March 2009 was 8.3% compared to 6.7% in March 2008.

The question here is whether there are other ways of thinking about "jobs" which would help to reframe that challenge. The exploration follows from a presentation to a workshop of the World Academy of Art and Science (Re-enchantment of Work: Hi Ho, Hi Ho, Its Off to Work We Go: Engagement in the 21st Century, 1996). It also follows from more recent concern with the general problem of lost opportunities resulting from dependence on "frozen" categories, as in the case of "job" (Framing the Global Future by Ignoring Alternatives: unfreezing categories as a vital necessity, 2009) and from earlier concern framing the challenge as one of "switching" from "being unemployed" to "being employed" (Recontextualizing Social Problems through Metaphor: transcending the "switch" metaphor, 1990).

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