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Satisfaction Not GuaranteedDilemmas of Progress in Modern Society$
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Peter N. Stearns

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780814783627

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: March 2016

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9780814783627.001.0001

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The Dilemmas of Work in Modernity

The Dilemmas of Work in Modernity

(p.111) 6 The Dilemmas of Work in Modernity
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Peter N. Stearns

NYU Press

This chapter tackles the disjunctures between modern work and both traditional standards and progressive forecasts, a persistent contributor to the gap between modernity and happiness. Modern work patterns emerged with industrialization, though they ultimately spread well beyond the factory setting. In contrast to most preindustrial norms, they involved speed, subordination, and specialization, and they could prove quite unpleasant. The key trends have gone through numerous iterations, with changing technologies and changing job categories, but the links between contemporary patterns and the early-nineteenth-century origins are clear cut. Efforts to accommodate to characteristic modern work problems stretch back as well, including a few false starts; at no point thus far, however, has an entirely acceptable arrangement developed for most workers. In many ways, modern work replicates, and in part produces, the larger relationship between modernity and happiness, but in somewhat darker hues.

Keywords:   modern work, industrialization, modern work problems, happiness gap, preindustrial norms

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