QotD: July 22nd, 2006

From Clive Hamilton’s “Growth Fetish”:

“Work, paid or otherwise, is inseparable from living a full and rewarding life. Although some ascetics seek their inner selves through long periods of meditative retreat, for most people purposeful activity is the means to fulfilment. Among the many who have studied the role of work, Jahoda argues that employment provides five categories of psychological experience that are vital to well-being — time structure, social contact, collective effort or purpose, social identity or status, and regular activity. Most of all, and notwithstanding the role of consumption in modern identity formation, work continues to provide a sense of personal identity, and it for this reason above all that in wealthy societies the wellbeing of workers declines so dramatically when they become unemployed. While the ostensible purpose of employment is to earn income in order to consume, in modern times the unemployed suffer most not from material deprivation but from the corrosive psychological impacts of exclusion from meaningful activity and the concomitant absence of time structure, idleness, impoverishment of social experience, and loss of social status.”