Gottfried Schweiger

Arbeit und Anerkennung: The Tragedy of Work. Reflections from an Hegelian Perspective

The Hegelian Concept of Tragedy and Modern Work-Relations
Modern working relations can be seen as involving conflicts of two opposing positions in light of the Hegelian concept of tragedy. These positions are equal but one-sided and thus there is no real solution.

Modern working relations as conflicts
Employers and workers both have justified needs regarding the organization of work. “Justified” in the sense that each of them conforms to the conditions of capitalistic society. But they collide as they are different in their very nature. Employers have to act as capitalists if they want their firms to survive while workers work is transformed, made “more flexible” or abolished. This is not what they expect from “decent work.”

Working relations as struggles for recognition
Modern working relations are seen as ongoing struggles for recognition without the possibility of reconciliation. This is especially true in the modern context of work, of increasingly flexible and atypical working relations. Employers are concerned with the workers performance, not with their self-realization, while workers demand recognition. One form of recognition is good payment. Payment is one major issue employers and workers struggle over.

Work without Boundaries
Firms increasingly aim at achieving operational flexibility by using nonstandard solutions. They delegate decision making and responsibility to individuals, and employees are asked to make full use of the scope of design and decision-making available to them. They meanwhile give absolute priority to the flexibility needs of their respective business organization.

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