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The fading scope of labour – remarks about the lost rationale of a common term

  • Mann, Stefan
  • Wüstemann, Henry

Work and labour describe activities with a redistributional and a reproductive component. In addition, the terms have gained the function of creating social status and self-esteem. This paper argues that the shifts on the labour market during the past decades question both the redistributive and the reproductive functions of labour. An increasing number of activities are taking place both in paid and unpaid settings simultaneously. And the productivity of employed persons, particularly in the growing management sector, is increasingly difficult to judge. Moreover, the strong social esteem of paid work has led to economic misjudgements, inefficient political measures and consequences for our individual well-being. While it would be helpful to speak of paid and unpaid activities instead of labour, it is likely that the term will continue to be used due to its esteem-generating function.

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Paper provided by University Library of Munich, Germany in its series MPRA Paper with number 39401.

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Date of creation: 12 Jun 2012
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:39401
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  1. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and lovely jobs: the rising polarization of work in Britain," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 20002, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
  2. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2003. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: the Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," CEP Discussion Papers dp0604, Centre for Economic Performance, LSE.
  3. Joachim H. Spangenberg, 2002. "The changing contribution of unpaid work to the total standard of living in sustainable development scenarios," International Journal of Sustainable Development, Inderscience Enterprises Ltd, vol. 5(4), pages 461-475.
  4. Stefan Mann, 2008. "From friendly turns towards trade – on the interplay between cooperation and markets," International Journal of Social Economics, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 35(5), pages 326-337, May.
  5. Oberholzer-Gee, Felix, 2008. "Nonemployment stigma as rational herding: A field experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 65(1), pages 30-40, January.
  6. Biewen, Martin & Steffes, Susanne, 2010. "Unemployment persistence: Is there evidence for stigma effects?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 188-190, March.
  7. David H. Autor & Lawrence F. Katz & Melissa S. Kearney, 2008. "Trends in U.S. Wage Inequality: Revising the Revisionists," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 90(2), pages 300-323, May.
  8. Veerle Miranda, 2011. "Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work Around the World," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 116, OECD Publishing.
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