What is the purpose of work for an individual and for society?

/ 5 March 2010

A few months back (on September 11, 2009) I first talked a bit about this topic. In that reflection I knew I’d orbit back around to this topic, and so now I have. As the question this will answer indicates, there are two solid answers, one for the individual, and one for the society they reside as a part of. These answers do interconnect, but I’ll be stating my reflections back-to-back, and then might get to explaining some of the actual interconnections that I see existing here. Work is the term used for two federal things we humans do regularly. One definition has to do with the energy we expend on tasks. As I write this now, or when I walk home from school, those are both a form of work. But the definition of work that is valid for this reflection is that which is where we get something in return. In the case of a job, we’re getting money in return that we then use to keep ourselves and our lifestyles afloat. However, just as much as a job is work, so is school. What we get in return during high school and beyond are credits towards our graduation. It is this second definition that I expand on for individuals and society here. The purpose of work for individuals is at first glance to get whatever it is we’ve been prescribed in return. I hinted at the two most common of these above. With this purpose we keep ourselves alive and healthy as well as able to enjoy what we enjoy on our down time. The less obvious purpose of work for individuals is to feel like we have a reason to keep struggling at life. If we weren’t working on something to get something in return we’d probably be dealing with a pandemic of suicides in this society. But thankfully between “pay” and “meaning” there is purpose enough in our society to keep individuals turning the gears of society itself in the form of working. That decently leads me into the purpose of work for society. But before I get there I should point out that all society is made of is the millions of individuals that group together on common ground to live together. Work for society has two definitions as well. The first is the one tied into the work of us individuals, that is the work we do to keep the society as a whole afloat and in place. Our work truly is the gears of the society in which we work and with it we’re feeding society. This work simply leads to the existence of culture and industry alongside one another to build a framework that supports the work. The second form of work for society is the work society itself does in the form of the nature around us and the work individuals need to do in the form of activism to keep the glue that ties our individual work together in place. At this point it seems like I’ve already touched on the interconnections between the two answers of this question. I’ll leave it up to those that read this to expand from there, but will conclude in saying that these are the central purposes, but the true extent of the purposes changes all the time dependent on the current situations.