Man's Quest for Social Guidance: The Study of Social Problems

By Howard W. Odum | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVIII
LABOR AND SOCIETY

Industry an Institution. In our last chapter we have emphasized the importance of labor in the economic problems of society and in a number of previous chapters we have called attention to the wide range of economic opportunity. In this chapter we shall study particularly the social problems which arise through the relation of the laborer to his employer and to society and life in general. We may begin by emphasizing the simple fact of the importance of work in the whole scheme of human society. For the institution of industry has been sadly neglected. Work is a law of life and happiness. Work is an essential to growth and progress. The form and means, therefore, which give adequate opportunity for all citizens to work must surely be a sanctioned institution of society. This institution may be called industry and includes the means of production, capital, labor, business, and occupations. Certainly the institution of industry is the most comprehensive of all -- because the whole mass of democratic citizens have a part in it and its services. Certainly, therefore, conditions of labor and the relations between capital and labor are essential in any study of popular government. Certainly, therefore, the conditions of child labor and of women in industry are parts of the people-citizens' business of government. Certain it is that the opportunities for all those who work -- and they should be all the people -- constitute an important field of community endeavor and offer a wide field for service. The promotion of a new respect for work and the promotion of a better understanding between those who perform detailed tasks and those who employ such workers may well become one of the supreme tasks of citizen statesmanship. It seems probable that if society had in the past considered the processes of industry and work to be as fundamental as the institutions of government and family and religion, a majority of the maladjustments due to conflict between capital and labor might have been avoided. Our viewpoint in this volume, therefore, recognizes industry and work

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