Meaningful work

There is a big difference in the scope and challenge of the work for a carpenter who builds a complete house, and a carpenter who just fits windows in to a prefabricated house. The latter misses two important aspects of their identity as a builder:

a relationship with the completed house and with the client. Instead, this carpenteronly forms a relationship to many houses and many clients, which is abstract. While, in the former case, close contact between the carpenter and client increases the possibility of a far more personal touch in the product.


In most cases there is a feeling of solidarity in the primary relationship. In the secondary relationship solidarity is replaced by laws, rules, production standards, etc. and expen-siveand inefficient bureaucracy. So-called extended producer responsibility isstrongly favoured today asthe basisfor more sustainable industry. It is important to notethat this is an issue of looking at production structures themselves, rather than ever new ways of regulating; for example, stricter environmental standards. Such industry is intended to focus more on longlife products as well as ecological responsibility in general.This kind of solution has shown itself to be far more diffcult to implement in productions based on the secondary relationship.


Possibilities for spontaneity and improvisation in the production process, e.g. to change a door handle or restyle a suit, are much greater in the primary relationship. This hasto do with the use of imagination, which we can assume is appreciated by both the manufacturer and the consumer.

The philosopher E. F. Schumacher sums it up like this: 'What one does for oneself and for friends will always be more important than what one does for strangers' (McRobie, 1981).

With the continual division of industry into separate skills there has also been an increasing geographical division of work - a specialization of space - with whole communities themselves being shaped around specialized industries. There are communities whose inhabitants work entirely for one aluminium factory, for example. Opportunities for different experiences become less and less since the essential qualities of variation and complexity in the community are strongly reduced (Kvaloy, 1973). As with the division of work, the geographical division of specific skills or industrial processes inevitably has socio-political aspects. A community of specialized workers can easily become the victims of administrative decisions contrary to their own local interests.

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