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The economists of the early 20th century did not foresee that work might evolve from a means of material production to a means of identity production. They failed to anticipate that, for the poor and middle class, work would remain a necessity; but for the college-educated elite, it would morph into a kind of religion, promising identity, transcendence, and community. Call it workism.
The decline of traditional faith in America has coincided with an explosion of new atheisms. Some people worship beauty, some worship political identities, and others worship their children. But everybody worships something. And workism is among the most potent of the new religions competing for congregants.
Thompson - Devotion - Greed - Men - Women
According to Thompson this devotion to work isn’t necessarily about greed but rather these men and women choose to go to work for the same reason Christians go to church, “its where they feel the most themselves.” By making the case that this is a spiritual matter, Thompson raises the stakes on a bewildering issue. Throughout the article he continues to use religious and spiritual imagery to emphasize his point. “The problem with this gospel—Your dream job is out there, so never stop hustling—,” writes Thompson, “is that it’s a blueprint for spiritual and physical exhaustion.”
As the title of the article suggests, Thompson sees this decades-long development as troubling, with far-reaching negative consequences. He states, “…a culture that funnels its dreams of self-actualization into salaried jobs is setting itself up for collective anxiety, mass disappointment, and inevitable burnout.” He even goes so far as to suggest that this worship of work might offer an explanation to America’s increased depression and anxiety rates.
Thompson - Article - Address - Topic - Way
It was encouraging to see Thompson’s article address this topic seriously and in a way that so clearly paints it as a spiritual issue. At times it felt like reading the transcript...
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