The Social Construction Series Part 6: The Social Construction of Work

Why How We Think About Our Work Matters

Photo by Raoul Ortega on Unsplash

In the past three years, I’ve been thinking a lot about how we view, internalize, and then perform our work.

Though many people associate work with a particular idea or vision of what work looks like, or should look like, work is a broad concept.

Because work is a broad concept, and, yep, is also socially constructed, it’s fun to ponder how the way we think about work affects how we feel and then do our work.

Right, so before we get too far into this discussion, let’s reset the definition of a social construction, shall we? Good. Here we go.

social construct

Pronunciation /ˌsəʊʃl ˈkɒnstrʌkt/

NOUN

A concept or perception of something based on the collective views developed and maintained within a society or social group; a social phenomenon or convention originating within and cultivated by society or a particular social group, as opposed to existing inherently or naturally.

Lexico

There we go. Now, let’s also define work. Here we go.

work

Pronunciation /wərk/ 

Translate work into Spanish

NOUN

Activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result.

Lexico

Alright, here’s what we have thus far.

Work is something we do to achieve a purpose or result; and, how we define, internalize, and then view our work, like everything, is simply a subjective interpretation about something that people in a society or culture agree upon. Phew.

Alright, yet what does that really mean?

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What does the social construction of work really mean?

Well, it means that how we think about work, the prestige, or lack thereof that we assign to particular types of work is nothing more than a subjective agreement within the particular society or culture that we live in.

Why does this matter? Good question.

Because when we fully understand that work is socially constructed, we are freed to think about our work in any way we want. Our choice. Yep.

Meaning that if you are a person that is cynical about your work, you can choose to become more positive about your work.

And? Passion can follow. Fun.

You can actually even think about becoming more positive and passionate about your work as actively resisting the social construction of work where you live.

Resisting the social norms that set certain types of work as more important or needed, than others. Norms that are also socially constructed.

And?

When we are freed from limited notions of our work, we are also freed to do our work without limits. Making ourselves and our work unlimited. Pretty powerful.

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What is work?

This is an especially fun question for me, as I grew up in a household where there was always lots of work to do. Always.

Yet, there was also always a demarcation between work away from home, let’s call this “professional” work, and work at home. A distinction that was very apparent.

Workdays, as in the days that were associated with professional work, always felt different. During my childhood, these days also correspond to school days, which then created a distinction, for me anyway, that those days should also feel different. How?

Well, they were heavier in some way. Meaning, they were considered, well, work, and that was associated with something that one must do. A compulsion, if you will, which, often, didn’t feel so great.

When we create distinctions between work at home, and work away from home, and create meaning that associates one with a more meaningful experience, we set ourselves up for pain and suffering. Really.

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How many times have you gotten up for work, and hung your head, thinking, and feeling, phew, not today? I know I’ve had many of those days.

And, though those days are not part of my life today, I can still feel the heaviness of that type of thinking. Painful. And?

Well, we can create a whole new way to think about our work. Seeing our work as interconnected, one. Whether we are working in the garden on a weekend, cooking dinner in the evening, or visiting with a client, they are all you.

You are doing all of these things, taking all of these actions.

Therefore, we can release the notion that there is a distinction between work we do at home and work we do away from home.

Why How We Think About Work Matters

When we release ourselves from the aforementioned distinction, which, by the way, only exists in the language we use to create our notions of work, we create more freedom for ourselves; and, at the same time, we can reduce the stress and anxiety we feel about our work.

Releasing the distinction that some work is stressful, not as fun, plain boring, or even painful, while other work is not stressful, fun, exciting, and full of joy, also releases us from the pain that we suffer while we do our work away from the home, whatever that might be. Yep.

And, remember, how we view, internalize, and feel this created distinction about our work, may, nay, will feel completely different to someone else. Both are unnecessary.

It is an unnecessary distinction. Really.

Photo by Raychan on Unsplash

However, when we create work in language similarly, regardless of what work we’re engaged in, we think about, practice, and feel work the same way, no matter where we are, releasing us from the aforementioned stress, anxiety, and pain. Helpful.

Right, let’s take a look at a couple of quotes about work, shall we?

Here we go.

“Developing a good work ethic is key. Apply yourself at whatever you do, whether you’re a janitor or taking your first summer job because that work ethic will be reflected in everything you do in life.”

Tyler Perry

Positivity Blog

Yep, great.

And, it is a similar attitude that we can hold about the distinction that some work is painless and some full of pain. When we think about all of our work the same way, and approach it the same, guess what?

We end up feeling the same way about all of our work.

“Success means doing the best we can with what we have. Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.”
Zig Ziglar

Positivity Blog

And, we can think about releasing the distinction between work at home and work away from home similarly. When we are always reaching for and giving all that we can, regardless of the type of work we are engaged in, our work will shine in all areas of our life. And?

Those around us will shine too. It works that way.

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”
Saint Francis

Positivity Blog

Ah, yes, lovely.

When we release our previously conceived ideas about work, we also release limitations. Yep. Think about it.

When we release our limited thinking about our work, whether that is work at home or more than likely, work away from home, we also create an unlimited context for all of our work. And?

When we are unlimited, we move from that which is impossible, to the possible. Really.

It all starts with how we think about our work. When we fully understand that work is a social construct, created in language, we can create new definitions, or constructions, of our work. We set the standard. Yep.

And? Then we get to live and work in a context that sees no limitation, that feels no limitation, that is now, well, unlimited. Beautiful.

All of our work matters. Matters to each of us, and to all of those around us. Release yourself from any distinction you have about work that creates a false binary about the work you do.

All of your work is important and is further needed. Needed for you, yes, and for your family, community, country, and the greater world.

Be well. Work well.

#becominglimitless, #howwethinkaboutourwork, #releasinglimitation, #social-construction, #socialconstruct, #socialconstructionism, #thesocialconstructionofwork, #whatiswork, #work, #workathome, #workawayfromhome

Creativity During COVID-19

The past month we’ve seen unprecedented changes, across the world, country, and here locally. I’ve been thinking about all of these changes, and the fact that post-COVID-19, if there is such a thing, will be a whole new normal. Life as it once was is over.

I’ve also been thinking, and doing more creative things this past month. Writing more. Visioning more. And, overall, experiencing more creativity. With work hours, if you are lucky and are working, less than pre-COVID 19, there is more time. More time to think, and ponder, yes, and to also do, and be.

Question for you:

What have you created since the onset of COVID-19?

#change, #covid-19, #creativity, #experience, #life, #vision, #work