The future of work is a hot topic, with predictions ranging from utopian visions of technological liberation to dystopian fears of widespread unemployment. Four frameworks have been proposed to make sense of these diverging views: labour as a commodity, labour as a service, labour as a calling, and labour as a social construct.

Each framework presents a different perspective on the role of labour and the individual in society. Viewing labour as a commodity focuses on the economic exchange involved in work, while seeing it as a service emphasises the value created through the worker’s skills and abilities. Treating labour as a calling highlights the personal fulfilment and sense of purpose derived from work. Lastly, considering labour as a social construct underscores the social and cultural factors that shape our understanding of work.

These frameworks are not mutually exclusive; they can coexist and interact in complex ways. For example, a job could be a means to earn a living (commodity), a way to utilise skills (service), a source of personal satisfaction (calling), and a social role (social construct). Understanding these frameworks can help navigate the changing landscape of work and inform policy decisions.

The future of work is uncertain, but these frameworks provide a tool for grappling with its complexity. They encourage us to think critically about the assumptions underlying predictions about the future of work and to consider the broader implications for society.

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