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Contributive justice and meaningful work

Sayer, Andrew (2009) Contributive justice and meaningful work. Res Publica, 15 (1). pp. 1-16. ISSN 1356-4765

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Abstract

The dominant focus of thinking about economic justice is overwhelmingly distributive, that is, concerned with what people get in terms of resources and opportunities. It views work mainly negatively, as a burden or cost, or else is neutral about it, rather than seeing it as a source of meaning and fulfilment—a good in its own right. However, what we do in life has at least as much, if not more, influence on whom we become, as does what we get. Thus we have good reason also to be concerned with what Paul Gomberg has termed contributive justice, that is, justice as regards what people are expected and able to contribute in terms of work. Complex, interesting work allows workers not only to develop and exercise their capacities, and gain the satisfaction from achieving the internal goods of a practice, but to gain the external goods of recognition and esteem. As Gomberg’s analysis of the concept of contributive justice in relation to equality of opportunity shows, as long as the more satisfying kinds of work are concentrated into a subset of jobs, rather than shared out among all jobs, then many workers will be denied the chance to have meaningful work and the recognition that goes with it. In this paper I examine the contributive justice argument, suggest how it can be further strengthened, arguing, inter alia, that ignoring contributive injustice tends to support legitimations of distributive inequality.

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Res Publica
Uncontrolled Keywords: Contibutive justice ; Equality ; Unequal social division of labour ; Meaningful work
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Departments: Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences > Sociology
ID Code: 54995
Deposited By: ep_importer_pure
Deposited On: 11 Jun 2012 09:45
Refereed?: Yes
Published?: Published
Last Modified: 26 Jul 2012 20:33
Identification Number:
URI: http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/id/eprint/54995

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