Society has undergone a process of democratization. Whereas once one’s parents’ occupation, and one’s own, as well as corresponding tastes, speech, dress and mannerisms could designate one as ‘blue collar’, ‘middle class’ or ‘upper-middle’, the economy has undergone such a restructuring that it’s longer possible to reliably estimate a person’s background and lifestyle having only observed one or two of these markers.
In this ‘post-industrial’ age of service and consumption based economies in the western world, jobs are not what they used to be. The days of working for an employer for 25+ years, taking long service leave and retiring with a gold watch are relics of the past. I’m sure you’ve heard that before, but I point out the key difference – most commentators will tell you that the key to success in the modern workplace is to abandon loyalty, stay ‘adaptable’ and ‘dynamic’, and deal with chopping and changing employers, and even careers. There is usually some mention of ‘Gen Y’ and how they have different values. What a load of poppyco*k. The real reason why young workers don’t have ‘loyalty’ (as though this is a measurable metric) is that the employment market with its needless credentialism (‘Masters preferred’ for your clerical job, anyone?), insecurity and low rates of pay do not offer a steady career path of meaningful, and dignified work.
My inspiration for this post/review comes from heretical economist Aaron Clarey, and his book, Worthless. There is a growing awareness in non-mainstream circles of the wholesale rort that is higher education. In the seventies and earlier, it was the case that a large percentage of high school students would only study until the tenth grade – from which point they would study a trade, or work in a family business. Students that showed academic promise would finish their twelfth or thirteenth year, and could go on to attend university to become a professional, academic or teacher. Masters and First-class honours, let alone PhDs were exceedingly rare, and accordingly had value, to those who completed them and those around them who admired higher learning and research. How times have changed! (more…)