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Work for All: Why and How in a World of Rapid Change 13 September 2001
There is one dominant framework or paradigm concerning work that is accepted in most of the western world. This paradigm equates meaningful work with paid employment. It asserts that full time jobs are available for everyone seeking them, that these jobs will provide adequate income for people holding them and their 'dependants' and that good social insurance will be available for people who are sick or unemployed. In this way everyone will have meaningful work, adequate income, participate in the life of the society and poverty would be eliminated. This is the paradigm that underpins most public policy initiatives seeking to address work-related issues.
There have been serious critiques of this paradigm in recent years. These have come from a wide range of perspectives. For example Rifkin, writing in 1995 stated:
'From the beginning, civilisation has been structured, in large part, around the concept of work. From the Paleolithic hunter/gatherer and Neolithic farmer to the medieval craftsman and assembly line worker of the current century, work has been an integral part of daily existence. Now, for the first time, human labour is being systematically eliminated from the production process. Within less than a century, "mass" work in the market sector is likely to be phased out in virtually all of the industrialised nations of the world. A new generation of sophisticated information and communication technologies is being hurried into a wide variety of work situations. Intelligent machines are replacing human beings in countless tasks, forcing millions of blue and white collar workers into unemployment lines, or worse still breadlines.