Working Vocabulary: Why Talking About Work Matters


This is a talk about work - and about what we say when we talk about it. Work - all kinds of it, at home, at the office, on farms and in factories, all the way up and down the pay-scale - is the engine that drives the free market. If we care about markets and we care about the liberty that the market enables we have to be willing to tangle with the challenges of talking seriously about all kinds of work. The economist Dierdre McCloskey says that the biggest push to bring us into the modern world was a change in the way we spoke and wrote about work and business. That means that what we say when we talk about work matters. It matters if we think and say that work makes you “a slave to the man” or “a cog in the corporate machinery.” It matters that we think and say work is degrading. Or fulfilling. Or creative. Or deadening. Right now we’re having a sort of long-term human crisis about work and what it means—and that means we have an opportunity, a really important one, to have a discussion about work that is clear-eyed about its problems, but also optimistic about its possibilities. The goal of this talk is to spark that discussion.

Monday, September 9, 2019
Noon to 2 p.m.
UCB La Sala C

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