Continued from page 1
(2) The advent of information and knowledge revolutions lessened worker's dependence on a "brick and mortar" workplace and a "flesh and blood" employer. Cyberspace replaces real space and temporary or contractual work are preferred to tenure and corporate "loyalty".
Knowledge is not geography-dependent. It is portable and cheaply reproduced. The geographical locations of participants in economic interactions of this new age are transparent and immaterial.
(3) The mobility of goods and data (voice, visual, textual and other) increased exponentially. The twin revolutions of transportation and telecommunications reduced world to a global village. Phenomena like commuting to work and globe-straddling multinationals were first made possible. The car, airplane, facsimile messages, electronic mail, other forms of digital data, Internet - demolished many physical and temporal barriers. Workers today often collaborate in virtual offices across continents and time zones. Flextime and work from home replaced commuting. The very concepts of "workplace" and "work" were rendered fluid, if not obsolete.
(4) The dissolution of classic workplace is part of a larger and all-pervasive disintegration of other social structures, such as nuclear family. Thus, while choice of work-related venues and pursuits increased - number of social alternatives to work declined.
The extended and nuclear family was denuded of most of its traditional functions. Most communities are tenuous and in constant flux. Work is only refuge from an incoherent, fractious, and dysfunctional world. Society is anomic and work has become a route of escapism.
(5) The ideology of individualism is increasingly presented as a private case of capitalism and liberalism. People are encouraged to feel and behave as distinct, autonomous units. The metaphor of individuals as islands substituted for perception of humans as cells in an organism. Malignant individualism replaced communitarianism. Pathological narcissism replaced self-love and empathy.
(6) The last few decades witnessed unprecedented successive rises in productivity and an expansion of world trade. New management techniques, improved production technologies, innovative inventory control methods, automatization, robotization, plant modernization, telecommunications (which facilitates more efficient transfers of information), even new design concepts - all helped bring workaholism about by placing economic values in forefront. The Protestant work ethic ran amok. Instead of working in order to live - people began living in order to work.
Workaholics are rewarded with faster promotion and higher income. Workaholism is often - mistakenly - identified with entrepreneurship, ambition, and efficiency. Yet, really it is merely an addiction.
The absurd is that workaholism is a direct result of culture of leisure.
As workers are made redundant by technology-driven productivity gains - they are encouraged to engage in leisure activities. Leisure substitutes for work. The historical demarcation between work and leisure is lost. Both are commended for their contribution to economy. Work, like leisure, is less and less structured and rigid. Both work and leisure are often pursued from home and are often experienced as pleasurable.
The territorial separation between "work-place" and "home turf" is essentially eliminated.
Some people enjoy their work so much that it fulfils functions normally reserved to leisure time. They are workaholics. Others continue to hate work - but feel disorientated in new leisure-rich environment. They are not taught to deal with too much free and unstructured time, with a lack of clearly delineated framework, without clear instructions as to what to do, when, with whom, and to what end.
The state, parents, educators, employers - all failed to train population to cope with free time and with choice. Both types - workaholic and "normal" person baffled by too much leisure - end up sacrificing their leisure time to their work-related activities.
Alas, it takes workaholics to create, maintain and expand capitalism. People don't work or conduct business only because they are after money. They enjoy their work or their business. They find pleasure in it. And this is true meaning of capitalism: abolition of artificial distinction between work and leisure and pursuit of both with same zeal and satisfaction. Above all, (increasing) liberty to do so whenever, wherever, with whomever you choose.
Sam Vaknin ( http://samvak.tripod.com ) is the author of Malignant Self Love - Narcissism Revisited and After the Rain - How the West Lost the East. He served as a columnist for Central Europe Review, PopMatters, and eBookWeb , and Bellaonline, and as a United Press International (UPI) Senior Business Correspondent. He is the the editor of mental health and Central East Europe categories in The Open Directory and Suite101.