We are so used to think on work just as an economic variable that it is hard for us to understand its true meaning. The question of work is both a basic and fundamental political question. It is an essential key to the social life because it is an essential scope of human existence. The work has always to be considered as something integrating the very roots of a person. The work is one of those characteristics differentiating human from other creatures on earth and there are two ways of standing at it: through the objective dimension and subjective dimension.
The objective sense of work is related to the tools that a human is using to work and is also related to the fruits of that work.
From that point of view, the work is valuable in a great way because it is the main and biggest economic value. But we cannot ignore that both the tools and organization of work will humanize people as much as the fruits of work when they were proposed through their service to life and social communion. When we alter the original sense of the work there arise badly consequences. Where there is no work, there is a lack of dignity.
Seen through the objective dimension, every work has not the same value. Are more valuable those works answering both more and better to the basic social needs than those not answering them. It is also more valuable the well-done job than the bad done one.
We can also look at the work through the subjective dimension. The subjective sense of the work is established by the fact that the one working is a person. The more important foundation in the value of work is the dignity of the person, who is a subject of the work. This way, the social doctrine reminds us that we must contemplate the objective dimension through this subjective dimension. Who works is a person and everything else are just things. Because of that, what we do to the work we are doing it to the person. The work is much more than an economy need. It is a person’s need. To recognize this value has several implications:
The work has to be subordinated to the person and not upside down.
The work is good for the person because through it the person becomes self-fulfilled.
Inside its workplace, the person has to be able to act as a subject and protagonist.
The work cannot be considered and treated as a commodity, because the work is not a production’s tool.
The work must always be organized through the respect to the person’s dignity on his or her workplace.
Having all this in mind, the social doctrine emphasizes that at the same time, the work has a personal, social and familiar dimension.
The work is a personal value. It is always a person’s activity who can self-fulfill through his or her workplace. It is essential to recognize and promote the leadership of the person as a subject in work’s organization.
The work is a social value because of the fact that we are not isolated people. The work is an essential scope on serving others through the fruits of work. A workplace is also a good place to interchange qualities and capabilities between people, it is a place to meet the others, a place to relate with other people and so on.
The work is also a familiar value. The social doctrine emphasizes the importance of this scope in the work. The family and familiar life have to be one of the most important attention points when we determine how a work has to be planned. The workplace should enable and favor familiar life and it should not block it.
This subjectivity gives to work its particular dignity, which does not allow that it be considered a simple commodity or an impersonal element of the apparatus for productivity. Cut off from its lesser or greater objective value, work is an essential expression of the person, it is an “actus personae”.
Social doctrine compendium n.271
What do you think it is especially important to spread on our environments about the sense and value of work? Why?