What future is there for work?
Purpose ‐ The paper aims to explore five lines of enquiry and action that mainly appeal to freedom and knowledge: developing forms of activity that put an emphasis on free commitment, such as NGOs, for example; fostering the building of creative knowledge-based societies; designing a new social contract founded on the right to lifelong learning for all; underpinning globalization by a future-oriented ethic; combining the necessity to work with the dignity to which citizens are entitled. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Drawing conclusions from recent trends in global economy as well as writings by economists, sociologists and philosophers from different countries, the paper argues that the social role and our conceptions of work have entered a time of crisis. Findings ‐ Once widely acknowledged as a central social and economic fact and a driving ethical value, work seems to lose some of its importance as a human activity in a world that is more and more global and technological. But, work being instrumental in defining not only what one does but also what one is, it cannot be discarded so casually. How can work be reinvented as a value and how are organizations such as Unesco to cope with an issue that pertains to human rights? Originality/value ‐ This conceptual paper focuses on work both as an economical fact and a social value.
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