Nearly two hundred years ago, the philosopher G.W.F. Hegel stated, in his Philosophy of Right, ‘Factories and manufacturers base their existence on the misery of a class’, a situation that ‘condemns a multitude to a raw life and to dullness in labour and poverty, so that others could amass fortunes’.

The Underemployed (credit:
The Underemployed (credit:

The role of work and whether it is a good or a burden have been at the forefront of political and ethical debates throughout the intervening years. Now, as politicians proclaim the moral value of work, we are faced with social transformations – from new technologies to rising retirement ages – that may make the old social-democratic goal of full employment impossible to achieve. In a world where technology continues to render many jobs obsolete, without increasing freedom, and labour costs in globalising economies see jobs continue to be outsourced to other countries, how will the societies we live in deal with the problems of unemployment and underemployment, and with the problem of low pay? Here in Wales, the economy for much of the 1990s and 2000s saw the lowest average wages in the whole of the UK. With downward pressure on wages, is paid work the best way to combat poverty? Was Hegel right to argue that work is, for many, a route to immiseration? How is the character of work changing for those who still have jobs? In this month’s Cardiff Philosophy Cafe, we discuss the changing meaning of work following the financial crisis and recession, and the future of work in Wales with the help of Professor Chris Norris (Philosophy, Cardiff University) and Professor Alan Felstead (Social Sciences, Cardiff).

We begin as usual at 8.00pm in the Cafe Bar at the Gate, Keppoch Street, Cardiff on Tuesday 18 June.

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