Summary of The Rite of Work: The Economic Man
In Sam Keens essay, work and its worth are clearly discussed. He generally talks about things people do in order to fit in at work. Keen reasons that men are prepared for the ritual of work at a very early age and that it is then when humans learn that the world is composed of winners and losers, pass or fail. He also explains that people see money as an object of power that will enable them to participate in society. According to Keen, the source of todays society value system is economic, and therefore, time is money, money is power, and power makes the world go round.
As time has gone by, men have been pulled out of context of nature, family, church, and community in order to find the meaning of their lives in trading, industry, the arts, and the professions. Nowadays, very few people are able to live in harmony between vocation and occupation. Also, in the theology of economic man, work has replaced God as the source from whom all blessings flow. As of now, work is the process of achieving values, and it is the purpose of life, and it is increasingly providing the world the meaning of life. In other words, Keen explains that the workplace is rapidly becoming its own culture that defines who people are.
Critical study of this kind of corporate culture suggests that it may be more like a tyrannical government. According to Keen, modern corporations represent a new form of tyranny since people are being controlled by accepting the definitions of happiness. However, this belief is nothing but a deception, since blue-collar workers live, socialize the way they please, and enjoy complete freedom outside their jobs. Nevertheless, society assumes that since they earn less money, they are considered poor, and they are also thought to be suffering, no matter how much they enjoy their jobs. In effect, Keen thinks the workplace is becoming a battlefield. There is more and more pressure building up in the workplace nowadays that, sooner or later, people come down with battle fatigue. The high price of success, on the psychological level, is the increasing problem of stress and burnout.
Keen explained that as women entered the workplace, they were equally skillful as man. Inevitably, both sexes were bounded to work, and the dangers of economics is not that it turns women into men but that it destroys the fullness of both manhood and womanhood. In other words, Keen reasons that work has become the life of most people, and that it is capable of making humans lose their humanity and convert them into robots.
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