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Work after Globalization

Building Occupational Citizenship

Guy Standing

In this ground-breaking book, Guy Standing offers a new perspective on work and citizenship, rejecting the labourist orientation of the 20th century.
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Chapter 9: Reviving Occupation in Full Freedom

Guy Standing


Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up. (Pablo Picasso) INTRODUCTION The Global Transformation is in crisis, not because of the meltdown in the financial markets, although this may be a harbinger of radical change, but because the model is profoundly inegalitarian. Competition combined with insatiable consumption breeds opportunistic villains and resentful victims, which the modern panopticon is set to deal with through restrictive laws, surveillance by sophisticated gadgetry and paternalistic reintegration schemes. A crisis in a transformation is when the economic system is out of control, from which there develops a realization that it must be re-embedded in society if social stability is to be restored. In the Great Transformation, the response was construction of ‘industrial citizenship’ around the values of labour. By analogy, in the Global Transformation, in which the building of international markets is paramount, several forms of citizenship are vying for supremacy. The argument of this chapter is that the desirable form is what we may call ‘occupational citizenship’. The primary challenge, globally, is to overcome the yawning inequality and the stress, insecurity and loss of control reviewed in the last chapter. Nobody has demonstrated that all this is necessary for economic growth or desirable for a healthy society. Those who call themselves progressive should wish to see a change in direction. Yet too many have been quiet, timid and atavistic, seemingly bereft of rational responses. Progressives have suffered from a failure of imagination on the great...

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