Dead Man Working - Book Review
Dead Man Working is a recently published book written by Carl Cederstorm and Peter Fleming. Cederstorm and Fleming are both university lecturers who have an expertise in similar fields. Cederstorm practices his profession at the Cardiff Business School where he gives lectures in Human Resource Management courses. His research focuses on psychoanalysis, politics, and philosophy. In common, Fleming is a professor at Queen Mary University of London. He is currently lecturing in ‘Work, Organization and Society’ under the School of Business Management. He shows interest in researching on subjects such as organization theory, business ethics, representation of organizations in the media and social theory. Both authors have published a number of books in relation to their fields of research.
Capitalism is evidently the dominating economic and political system adopted by the majority of the world. The author confirms that capitalism is indeed the ‘only game in town’ (Cederstrom & Fleming 2012, p.01). However, capitalism in today’s society lacks liveliness and the ideological purposes have shifted as our society emerged. As a result, ‘real capitalism’ has died sometime during the 1970s. The book describes work as a pointless matter and metaphorically compares it to the receding sea and dead desert before the tsunami hits. Human beings are presented as controlled objects. The essentiality to life is simplified to having the right words to say and the right clothes to wear before death takes us away.
The author describes working life as a life that is already dead. This is a very controversial statement. Life itself is a subjective matter. Who defines what life is and how does one measure the extent of life? In my opinion, there is a lot more to life than just work itself. Life is an exploration. People go through life by experiencing both good and bad moments. To ignorantly assume that everyone feels miserable about work is generalizing and extremely deterministic. Careers such as care workers, doctors, writers, artists and athletes all require passion and enjoyment towards their profession. Of course, very rarely can one be over the top about what they do for living every single day, but so is life itself. Life is a combination of emotions.
A managerial motivation was prompted to overcome the author's opinion that workers feel lifeless at heart. There is a growing industry in self-help, psychological therapies, new age spirituality and a new occupation called ‘fun-sultants’, whose job is to design office entertainments. These strategies are adopted to encourage workers to transcend their mundane day to day job, or on the opposite hand, to release stress and pressure. The ideology of “liberation management” expresses that workers exploit themselves by consistently working even during non-office hours. The trend of injecting authenticity into work has become an important aspect in modern managerialism. The motivation to work should not always be down to deriving profit. Athletes who use every waking hour to practice certainly cannot be described as an exploitation of themselves. When work is being done out of sincerity, it is not exploitation, but rather an investment of time.
“Capitalism has always destroyed things it needs the most” (Cederstorm & Fleming 2012, p. 09). The fundamental concept of capitalism is to provide an expansion of production without limit and in return make profit from the goods and services produced. However, capitalism led to crisis when over production resulted in an excess of merchandises left unsold. This illustrates the fundamental contradictions in capitalism. The author claims that “capital may seem fluid, dynamic, and full of creative possibilities but that is just part of its mythology” (Cederstrom & Fleming 2012, p.11). Marx once stated, “what to us appears to be a creative movement - the essence of life itself - is in fact a cunning ruse fabricated by...
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