WHAT IS WORK? DEFINING EMPLOYMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

WHAT IS WORK? DEFINING EMPLOYMENT IN THE 21ST CENTURY

A job, a source of income, a living, employment: we know work by lots of different names, but not all of them mean the same thing. How deeply do we really understand what work is? Let’s look at some official definitions. In a workforce context, Merriam-Webster.com offers the following about work: “1:a: sustained physical or mental effort to overcome obstacles and achieve an objective or result”. From this we can see that the very basis of work is thought and action directed towards the accomplishment of a goal. This basic definition does not distinguish if the goal is the worker’s own or not, and also does not mention anything about compensation in any form aside from the goal itself. The introduction of compensation to work gave birth to the more specific concept of a job. A job implies that the worker is responsible for fulfilling his task, in the same way that the client is obligated to pay the worker for the job done. It should be noted that this type of professional relationship arises out of the client’s need to fulfill a task that she or he is incapable of performing personally. Here, it is understood that the ability to perform the task is why the client is paying the worker. In the event that the client wishes to benefit from the continuous service of the worker as an integral part of her or his enterprise, she or he may choose to employ the worker. This arrangement implies a long-term business relationship wherein the client is called the employer, while the worker becomes the employee. Given all of...