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Sustainable Lifestyles and the Future of Work

Learnings from The Employment Dilemma and the Future of Work (Part #1)


Comment on 1996 draft report to the Club of Rome by Orio Giarini and Patrick Liedtke


Mandate
aspirations
New understanding of wealth
New understanding of work
New understanding of employment
Globalization as global opportunity?
Developing non-monetarized activities
Work and identity
Multi-layer system of work
Conclusion

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"Unemployment begins in the minds of men, and it is in the minds of men that sustainable lifestyles must be constructed"
(adaptation of a key phrase in the constitution of Unesco)


Mandate

The report starts with the comment: "the future of work and the employment dilemmas are some of the most pressing issues that the world has to face".

The report "aims at disclosing some of the weaknesses and shortcomings of present concepts, proposing a different, alternative view of present and future economic activities that will enable us to meet today's and tomorrow's challenges with more adequate insight. The main objective is not to provide final answers that in an ideal world might satisfy everyone under all circumstances. We rather wish to provoke and stimulate economic thinking in a new direction by adopting a different, alternative point of view that will reveal previously hidden aspects opening the path for new approaches and more satisfactory solutions" (p. 9)

The question which will be asked is whether the report has adopted a broad enough framework in "disclosing the weaknesses and shortcomings of present concepts". It is possible that fruitful approaches to the dilemmas of employment lie outside efforts to understand "present and future economic activities". Whilst it may be useful to "stimulate economic thinking in new directions", it is unclear whether economists are necessarily equipped to respond to the concrete challenge following such stimulation. The "previously hidden aspects" may at present lie openly in the territory of other disciplines (with their own limitations) who themselves have difficulty in focusing their skills in response to these same challenges.

The report is written under a banner of useful humility provided by Francis Bacon: "If a man will begin with certainties, he shall end in doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts, he shall end in certainties". The question is whether the report has locked itself into certainties based on the primacy of economic thinking concerning response to the challenges of employment. This primacy can be usefully doubted. thinking concerning response to the challenges of employment. This primacy can be usefully doubted.


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