The Worker in Modern Economic Society

The Worker in Modern Economic Society

The Worker in Modern Economic Society

The Worker in Modern Economic Society

Excerpt

This volume of readings is concerned in general with the study of the way in which men in modern times work together to gain a living, and more particularly with the part which the wage-earner plays in the process, the position which he occupies in the economic organization, and the significance of these facts to him, to other groups in the community, and to the community as a whole. It is to serve, that is, as a basis for studying people in their relation to the scheme of production in which they take part. Such a survey may properly begin with an effort to see, if only in a preliminary way, what kind of creature man is; where he came from; how he has developed; what controls his actions; what relationships there are between his attitudes, motives and ways of acting, and the environment, social and economic, in which he is placed.

It need not be discouraging to acknowledge at the outset that on none of these points will it be possible to get complete or final answers. To gain the most partial understanding of modern economic organization some assumptions about human nature are necessary. A little space may, therefore, be devoted to an examination of current assumptions of this kind with the object of comparing them with recent psychological and anthropological contributions to knowledge about man, and seeing what practical implications such knowledge has for purposes of understanding modern economic organization.

Men have always had, consciously or unconsciously, theories of human nature or personality--notions about why they and their fellows act as they do in the face of given situations. These notions have always necessarily underlain and influenced the policies and methods used in directing and controlling schemes of organization for producing the goods necessary for subsistence.

For example, hypotheses about human nature were implicit in the behavior of the early members of the race, in their economic and social life; hypotheses about human capacity, changeability, and the forces that governed action. From what the anthropologists tell us, we can, perhaps, conclude that these hypotheses were made up chiefly in an empirical way--simply as unconscious reactions from day-to-day personal contact. They were, however, deeply tinged with animistic . . .

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