Is Work a Necessity? Why do People Have to Work: Is That a Duty, a Socially Accepted Behavior, or a Natural Predisposition?
Why do human beings work while no member of any other species does so? To understand this, first let us see what we mean by work. The Cambridge dictionary defines work as “an activity, such as a job, that a person uses physical or mental effort to do, usually for money” (Cambridge Dictionary)
Working is exclusive to human beings. No member of any other species has to work in order to gain its livelihood. The nutritive requirements of all species are present in their ecosystems, from where they can fulfill their needs. Animals, plants and microbes, whether through hunting or photosynthesis manage to fulfill their nutritive requirements.
The Necessity of Work
However for human beings, the modes of sustenance are collective; “. . . [The] four general types of food systems [are]
. . . foraging, pastoralism, horticulture, and agriculture. Each mode is defined by the tasks involved in obtaining food as well as the way members of the society are organized socially to accomplish these tasks . . . each culture’s subsistence system . . . a set of survival strategies uniquely developed to suit a particular environment.” (Shearn, 2017). In other words, people grouped together to hunt or grow their meals.
As society became more developed specialization became more common, due to its efficiency. “. . . one of the central drivers of economic progress . . . the division of labor.” (Smith, 1776) “Much of the prosperity our world now enjoys comes from . . . dividing work into ever smaller tasks performed by ever more specialized workers.”(Malone, Laubacher & Johns, 2011).
Thus in this age of hyper-specialization it is impossible for humans to fulfill their needs and maintain a good standard of living by performing all their tasks alone. Thus we can conclude that working is an essential task in today’s world in order to survive.
Work and Money
The second question that arises, is that are human beings naturally predisposed to work, or is money and/or material gains the incentive?
Both money and the enjoyment of the task can be a motivating factor behind why people work. “People do all kinds of work because they enjoy the activity for its own sake. Anglers love to fish. . . Motivation theorists say that we are intrinsically motivated for such activities.” (Barber, 2010). But in general, “We are not intrinsically motivated for work, which is why we need to be paid. Money can be highly effective at motivating hard work.” (Barber, 2010)
Work and Society
Human beings have been working since the dawn of time. The methods have changed, but the objective has always remained the same- to provide sustenance for themselves and their families.
Work is also a method by which we spend our time, without which our lives would otherwise be empty and pointless. As Joanna Biggs put it in her book All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work, “Work is … how we give our lives meaning when religion, party politics and community fall away.” (2015). The workplace also allows us to socialize, and human beings, being extremely social creatures definitely require such a platform. “. . . social reinforcement increases our interest in the work we do because it gets imbued with social significance. These experiences, and not money, are what makes people want to return to their place of work day after day, even after the age of retirement.” (Shearn, 2017)
In short we can conclude that working is not just a basic necessity for survival, but also a socially accepted behavior and a method of existing in which human beings thrive.
Barber, N. (Dec 02, 2010). Is money the main reason we go to work? Psychology Today. Retrieved April 8, 2018 from https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/the-human-beast/201012/is-money-the-main-reason-we-go-work.
Biggs, J. (2015) All Day Long: A Portrait of Britain at Work. Serpent's Tail; Main edition (April 9, 2015)
Malone, T. W., Laubacher, R., Johns, T. The Big Idea: The Age of Hyper-specialization. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved April 8, 2018 from https://hbr.org/2011/07/the-big-idea-the-age-of-hyperspecialization.
Shearn, S (2017) Subsistence. Perspectives: An Open Invitation to Cultural Anthropology. Retrieved April 8, 2018 from https://courses.lumenlearning.com/sunyculturalanthropology/chapter/subsistence/.
Smith, A. (1776) World of Nations. (Great Minds). Abridged, December 1, 1991
Work. (n.d.). In Cambridge dictionary. Retrieved from https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/work