That work is of great importance for our society and for participation in that society, is widely endorsed. In this light, unemployment is seen as a major social problem and the government has committed to stimulating employment levels for decades. But what makes work so important? Is it only about the economic significance – work as a source of income and wealth? Or is work essential to our personal development and sense of purpose – the intrinsic meaning of work? What kind of work do we have? Only paid work or also unpaid work? To what extent is this related to the institutions around work, such as laws and regulations in different countries? The project ‘the value of work’ tries to find answers to these questions.
Is work only about the economic significance, or is it also essential for the personal development of people?
This project examines what different disciplines can teach us about the value of work. Ostensibly, economists perceive work very differently from sociologists and social psychologists. Is there a large discrepancy between these disciplines or are there some common grounds?
A second important question is how the actual valuation of work differs; between countries and cultures, but also between different population groups. For example, between different levels of education, and young versus old. And how does the nature of work – such as rewards, contracts, working conditions – affect the valuation of work?
The third question is how the valuation of work correlates with the existing institutions involved with work. Consider the wide acceptance of part-time work in The Netherlands, which is accompanied by legislation and collective agreements on equal treatment of part-timers and full-timers. Are these institutions still linked to the value of work in most countries, or is there a (growing?) tension between institutions and value?
How does the nature of work influence the value people ascribe to it?