Craftwork, Virtue and Trust: Re-imagining work without economic growth
Author: Jonathan Barrett School of Business Open Polytechnic
Abstract: A prolonged period of low or zero economic growth is unlikely to be welcomed by any government. Nevertheless, such a state would present opportunities for re-imagining social and economic arrangements, in particular, approaches to work under the conditions of globalisation. This conceptual article engages with those opportunities. First, the modern confidence in economic growth and the converse possibility of a zero-growth economy are sketched. Second, the potential benefits of an economy without growth are outlined, and arguments put forward for decoupling wellbeing from material wealth so that a fuller conception of prosperity might be pursued. Third, certain discontents of contemporary workers in a globalised economy are identified and compared with features of localised craftwork. The aim here is to demonstrate that qualities associated with traditional forms of work might be informative if economic growth were no longer considered the principal socio-economic goal. Fourth, ideas are proposed about re-imagined work, and the principles of craftwork, virtue, and trust are justified. Policies for realising these ideas are also sketched. It is concluded that, since a country’s development is not synonymous with continuous economic growth, a focus on material wealth distracts us from pursuing genuine prosperity in work, business, and our communities.