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

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  • Mann, Stefan
  • Wüstemann, Henry

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Mann, Stefan & Wüstemann, Henry, 2012. "The fading scope of labour – remarks about the lost rationale of a common term," MPRA Paper 39401, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:39401
    as

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    File URL: https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/39401/1/MPRA_paper_39401.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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.
    2. Maarten Goos & Alan Manning, 2007. "Lousy and Lovely Jobs: The Rising Polarization of Work in Britain," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(1), pages 118-133, February.
    3. Biewen, Martin & Steffes, Susanne, 2010. "Unemployment persistence: Is there evidence for stigma effects?," Economics Letters, Elsevier, vol. 106(3), pages 188-190, March.
    4. 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.
    5. repec:aph:ajpbhl:10.2105/ajph.75.5.502_8 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. 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, April.
    7. 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.
    8. Veerle Miranda, 2011. "Cooking, Caring and Volunteering: Unpaid Work Around the World," OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers 116, OECD Publishing.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Mann, Stefan, 2013. "“Work”? On utility in the market and in the unpaid sphere," Journal of Behavioral and Experimental Economics (formerly The Journal of Socio-Economics), Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 86-91.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    labor; redistributional/reproductive function; paid work; unpaid work;

    JEL classification:

    • B52 - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology - - Current Heterodox Approaches - - - Historical; Institutional; Evolutionary
    • J00 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - General - - - General
    • J20 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demand and Supply of Labor - - - General

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