^Look how happy this guy is to be at work, in his lovely, bright, open plan office!
Ever since Adam Smith, our economy has had consumption as its goal: production is geared toward the consumption of what is produced as the driver of economic growth. The result (combined with the liberal individualist cultural stream that capitalism is a part of) has been the consumer culture we now inhabit. It is largely the consumption habits of the developed world that drive the global economy.
Production = work, i.e., what most people spend most of their time doing to make ends meet and to find and define their place in human community. For the vast majority in the world, work is a hard grind that our consumer culture largely hides as far as it can (think of the conditions in Apple factories in China).
In the developed world, on the other hand, many of us have jobs that we quite enjoy (even if that isn’t the whole story of our work). And, statistically, we are spending more and more hours doing that work. Apparently, we can’t get enough of it.
So, here’s my question/theory—one that I’m sure someone else has had before. Has consumer capitalism cannibalised production? That is, has it succeeded in turning even our productive labour (at least in the developed world) into an act of consumption? Do we “consume” our work as a means to personal fulfilment and self-definition? It works out very well for global consumer capitalism if it has in fact managed to do just that.