Workism: workplaces as the new houses of worship


In recent years, there has been a notable cultural shift in America, as attitudes towards religion have been making way for a form of worship centered on work. This phenomenon, referred to as "workism" by Derek Thompson in a 2019 essay for The Atlantic, pertains to the tendency of elite, wealthy, and college-educated individuals, predominantly men, to regard work as more than just a means of economic production. Instead, they elevate it to the centerpiece of their identity and life's purpose, seeking identity, transcendence, and community through their professional endeavors.

The concept of work has predominantly been associated with America's wealthiest men, a group that historically had more leisure time. However, Thompson observes that this ethos is spreading across gender and age groups. This fervent devotion to work carries certain risks, including burdens that jobs are not designed to bear, neglect of other important aspects of life, and the potential for overinvestment in professional pursuits.

Simone Stolzoff, in her book "The Good Enough Job: Reclaiming Life from Work," points out that viewing work as a calling can be detrimental. She advocates for a more transactional approach, which could benefit both employers and employees by allowing for clearer expectations and a healthier work-life balance.

Looking to the future, Derek Thompson anticipates a significant transformation in the world of work. Telecommuting, by breaking the link between work and home, has already had a profound impact on how and where people work, as well as the types of companies they establish. Additionally, the emergence of AI, such as OpenAI's ChatGPT and its advanced language model, GPT-4, is reshaping people's perceptions of the future of work.

In conclusion, the shift towards workism presents both challenges and opportunities, and it's poised to significantly influence the future of labor and professional life in America.  

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