Work ethic

Work ethic is a belief that hard work and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability, virtue or value to strengthen character and individual abilities.[1] It is a set of values centered on importance of work and manifested by determination or desire to work hard. Social ingrainment of this value is considered to enhance character through hard work that is respective to an individual's field of work.[2]

“Who doesn’t work doesn’t eat” – Uzbek, Tashkent, 1920 (Mardjani)
"He who does not work, neither shall he eat" – Soviet poster issued in Uzbekistan, 1920

Factors of a good work ethic

Proponents of a strong work ethic consider it to be vital for achieving goals, that it gives strength to their orientation and the right mindset. A work ethic is a set of moral principles a person uses in their job. People who possess a strong work ethic embody certain principles that guide their work behavior, leading them to produce high-quality work consistently and the output motivates them to stay on track. A good work ethic fuels an individual's needs and goals, it is related to the initiative by a person for the objectives. It is considered as a source of self respect, satisfaction, and fulfillment.

Factors are:[3][4]

  1. Goal-oriented actions: it is not about making plans or the next logical steps; it's about getting things done so that the work invested wouldn't be counter-productive.
  2. Prioritized focus: focusing on qualitative activities that a person is responsible of and in areas where they can make a difference or a high impact based on objectives.
  3. Being available and reliable: spending time on the work and building oneself up for the task.
  4. Conscientiousness: a desire to do a task well, being vigilant and organized.
  5. Creating a rewarding routine/system: Engaging in tasks that provide strength and energy which can be transferred to your ultimate goals, creating a habit and a habitat for success.
  6. Embracing positivism: shape a problem with the statement "good, (action) (problem)", e.g. "I'm tired and it is time for a workout" leads to "Good. Workout tired".

A negative work ethic is a behavior of a single individual or a group that has led to a systematic lack of productivity, reliability, accountability and a growing sphere of unprofessional/unhealthy relationships (e.g., power politics, lack of social skills, etc.).[5]


Assumptions about good work ethic is drawn out in philosophical writings of Goldman, they are:[6]

  1. The path to what you want is to take action.
  2. The success of action plans depend upon how congruent one's worldview (Weltanschauung) is with the society's.
  3. Many problems faced are only a temporary breakdown of self management.
  4. Setting time limits for achieving goals helps to overcome the edge of discomforts that time can have on subjective needs.
  5. A positive problem-solving or goal attainment experience improves one's ability to cope with the next difficulty.
  6. Hardships in life is a normality, they become a problem when they are the same over and over.
  7. A person is what s/he does, and feelings flow from behavior.
  8. Feelings can be viewed as beliefs about one's wants.

In the 1970s a good work ethic was considered as a lifestyle to meet unmet or unsatisfied wants by people.

Capitalist view

Steven Malanga refers to "what was once understood as the work ethic—not just hard work but also a set of accompanying virtues, whose crucial role in the development and sustaining of free markets too few now recall".[7]

Max Weber quotes the ethical writings of Benjamin Franklin:

Remember, that time is money. He that can earn ten shillings a day by his labor, and goes abroad, or sits idle, one half of that day, though he spends but sixpence during his diversion or idleness, ought not to reckon that the only expense; he has really spent, or rather thrown away, five shillings besides.

Remember, that money is the prolific, generating nature. Money can beget money, and its offspring can beget more, and so on. Five shillings turned is six, turned again is seven and threepence, and so on, till it becomes a hundred pounds. The more there is of it, the more it produces every turning, so that the profits rise quicker and quicker. He that kills a breeding sow, destroys all her offspring to the thousandth generation. He that murders a crown, destroys all that it might have produced, even scores of pounds.[8]

Weber notes that this is not a philosophy of mere greed, but a statement laden with moral language. It is in effect an ethical response to the natural desire for hedonic reward, a statement of the value of delayed gratification to achieve self-actualization. Franklin claims that Bible readings revealed to him the usefulness of virtue. Indeed, this reflects the then christian search for ethic for living and the struggle to make a living.[9]

Experimental studies have shown that people with fair work ethic are able to tolerate tedious jobs with equitable monetary rewards and benefits, they are highly critical, have a tendency for workaholism and a negative relation with leisure activity concepts. They valued meritocracy and egalitarianism.[10]

In the 1940s work ethic was considered very important, nonconformist ideals were dealt autocratically. Suppression of humor in the workplace was one of them. It is recorded that at the Ford Company a worker John Gallo was fired for being "caught in the act of smiling".[11]

Anti-capitalist view

Countercultural groups and communities have challenged these values in recent decades.

The French Leftist philosopher André Gorz (1923–2007) wrote:

"The work ethic has become obsolete. It is no longer true that producing more means working more, or that producing more will lead to a better way of life. The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet-unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less. This is especially true as regards our needs for air, water, space, silence, beauty, time and human contact.

Neither is it true any longer that the more each individual works, the better off everyone will be. In a post-industrial society, not everyone has to work hard in order to survive, though may be forced to anyway due to the economic system. The present crisis has stimulated technological change of an unprecedented scale and speed: 'the micro-chip revolution'. The object and indeed the effect of this revolution has been to make rapidly increasing savings in labour, in the industrial, administrative and service sectors. Increasing production is secured in these sectors by decreasing amounts of labour. As a result, the social process of production no longer needs everyone to work in it on a full-time basis. The work ethic ceases to be viable in such a situation and workbased society is thrown into crisis."[12]

Anti-capitalists believe that the concept of "hard work" is meant by capitalists to delude the working class into becoming loyal servants to the elite, and that working hard, in itself, is not automatically an honorable thing, but only a means to creating more wealth for the people at the top of the economic pyramid. In the Soviet Union, the regime portrayed work ethic as an ideal to strive for.[13]

The recession is a contributing factor that holds back work ethic, because the generation that inherits economic decline lives in an economy that isn’t ready to receive them. Without work there to do, the ethic that is attached to it fails to generate distinctive value. The negative work ethic and power structures that doesn't value or credit work done or unethically attribute work done as a service or with higher moral ideals have dissolved the ethic presented in the society and turned the focus onto self-centered perks and individualism. Further, urbanization and an emphasis on large-scale businesses has led to eliminating avenues for learning vital concepts about work. Millennials in a research identified what made them unique was consumerist trends like technology use, music/pop culture, liberal/tolerant beliefs, clothes, and individualistic ones like greater intelligence than work, they were not able to distinguish the concept in the traditional understandings of work ethic.[14]

See also



  1. ^ "What is work ethic? definition and meaning". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  2. ^ T. Marek; W. Karwowski; M. Frankowicz; J. Kantola; P. Zgaga (2014). Human Factors of a Global Society: A System of Systems Perspective. CRC Press. pp. 276–277. ISBN 978-1-4665-7287-4.
  3. ^ Schawbel, Dan (December 21, 2011). "Reviving Work Ethic in America". Retrieved 18 March 2018.
  4. ^ Swan, Andy (October 5, 2016). "7 Work Ethic Commandments For An Entrepreneur". Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  5. ^ Robert Vaux. "Negative Work Ethic Definition". Houston Chronicle. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  6. ^ Alvin I. Goldman (1970). A theory of human action. Prentice-Hall.
  7. ^ "Whatever Happened to the Work Ethic? by Steven Malanga, City Journal Summer 2009".
  8. ^ Benjamin Franklin, Advice to a Young Tradesman, Written by an Old One (1748), Italics in the original
  9. ^ Weber, Max The Protestant Ethic and "The Spirit of Capitalism" (Penguin Books, 2002) translated by Peter Baehr and Gordon C. Wells, pp.9-12
  10. ^ Mirels and Garrett (1971). Protestant Work Ethic. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 36, 40–44.
  11. ^ Christopher Robert (19 December 2016). The Psychology of Humor at Work: A Psychological Perspective. Taylor & Francis. p. 149. ISBN 978-1-317-37077-2.
  12. ^ "GSD: Andre Gorz".
  13. ^ "Intro to Capitalism - Does capitalism work for the benefit of all, or is it just a tool to exploit the working classes? Or is Anarchy the way forward?". Our Mayday. April 2003. Retrieved 15 April 2018.
  14. ^ Erica Williams (April 8, 2010). "Debunking The Millennials' Work Ethic "Problem"". Retrieved 18 March 2018.


Alfredo M. Bonanno

Alfredo Maria Bonanno (born 1937 in Catania) is a main theorist of contemporary insurrectionary anarchism who wrote essays such as Armed Joy (for which he was imprisoned for 18 months by the Italian government), The Anarchist Tension and others. He is an editor of Anarchismo Editions and many other publications, only some of which have been translated into English. He has been involved in the anarchist movement for over thirty years.

Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral

"Anekdote zur Senkung der Arbeitsmoral" ("Anecdote concerning the Lowering of Productivity" in Leila Vennewitz' translation) is a short story by Heinrich Böll about an encounter between an enterprising tourist and a small fisherman, in which the tourist suggests how the fisherman can improve his life. It was written for a May Day programme on the Norddeutscher Rundfunk in 1963, and is considered one of the best stories written by Heinrich Böll.

Blind nationalism

Blind nationalism is extreme nationalism such as Nazism, Fascistic, tribalistic national identity or chauvinism. It is primarily a platform for familial militarism, love of personality cults, leadership, classism and honor, pride in work ethic, seasonal harvests or festivals, kinship bonds between religious groups or orders and patrilineal lineage, and pride for national symbolism, origin and founding myth, heroism and saints. It is similar to the disdain in expansionist nationalism towards all foreign nations and outsiders. A noteworthy exception is many nationalists believe in peace through marriage between social groups. It is the nationalism "which does not allow the rational nature of the human mind to assert itself".It was used to explain the totalitarian and authoritarian regimes in the Interwar period, which eventually led to World War II. The term is sometimes associated with American expansionism.

Bob Black

Robert Charles Black Jr. (born January 4, 1951) is an American anarchist. He is the author of the books The Abolition of Work and Other Essays, Beneath the Underground, Friendly Fire, Anarchy After Leftism, and Defacing the Currency, and numerous political essays.

Bruise Brothers (San Antonio Spurs)

Bruise Brothers were the six big men who played for the San Antonio Spurs in the early 1980s: Dave Corzine, Reggie Johnson, Paul Griffin, Mark Olberding, Kevin Restani and George T. Johnson.In the 1980–81 season, they led the NBA in rebounds, blocked shots (3rd in fouls) and led the Spurs to a 52–30 record and a division title, while showing San Antonio a new brand of basketball built on hustle, physical play and a blue collar work ethic. In December 1980, the team recognized the "Bruise Brothers" nickname when it gave away 10,000 free posters using it to identify their front line. The name evoked the recently released hit film, The Blues Brothers. During this period, many fans would show up to the HemisFair Arena dressed as the characters played by Dan Aykroyd and John Belushi in the film. Music used in the film was also played by the arena's loudspeaker.

The group was broken up in the fall of 1982, when Olberding and Corzine were traded to the Chicago Bulls for Artis Gilmore.

Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award

The Derek Hines Unsung Hero Award is an annual award given out to the NCAA Division I player judged to best exemplify the qualities of sportsmanship, competitiveness, intelligence and work ethic. The award is named in honor of Derek Hines, a 4-year letter-winner for Army who was killed while serving in Afghanistan on September 1, 2005.


Diligence is one of the seven heavenly virtues. Diligent behavior is indicative of a work ethic; a belief that work is good in itself. Diligence is carefulness and persistent effort or work.

Fallacies of illicit transference

A fallacy of illicit transference is an informal fallacy occurring when an argument assumes there is no difference between a term in the distributive (referring to every member of a class) and collective (referring to the class itself as a whole) sense.There are two variations of this fallacy:

Fallacy of composition – assumes what is true of the parts is true of the whole. This fallacy is also known as "arguing from the specific to the general."Since Judy is so diligent in the workplace, this entire company must have an amazing work ethic.Fallacy of division – assumes what is true of the whole is true of its parts (or some subset of parts).Because this company is so corrupt, so must every employee within it be corrupt.While fallacious, arguments that make these assumptions may be persuasive because of the representativeness heuristic.

Future Primitive and Other Essays

Future Primitive and Other Essays is a collection of essays by anarcho-primitivist philosopher John Zerzan published by Autonomedia in 1994. The book became the subject of increasing interest after Zerzan and his beliefs rose to fame in the aftermath of the trial of fellow thinker Theodore Kaczynski and the 1999 anti-WTO protests in Seattle. It was republished in 1996 by Semiotext(e), and has since been translated into French (1998), Turkish (2000), Spanish (2001), and Catalan (2002). As is the case with Zerzan's previous collection of essays, Elements of Refusal, Future Primitive is regarded by Anarcho-Primitivists and technophobes as an underground classic.

Kittens for Christian

Kittens for Christian is a punk rock band that is signed with Serjical Strike Records. They released an album, Privilege of Your Company, on September 9, 2003.

Protestant work ethic

The Protestant work ethic, the Calvinist work ethic or the Puritan work ethic is a work ethic concept in theology, sociology, economics and history that emphasizes that hard work, discipline and frugality are a result of a person's subscription to the values espoused by the Protestant faith, particularly Calvinism. The phrase was initially coined in 1904–1905 by Max Weber in his book The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.Historians Fernand Braudel and Hugh Trevor-Roper assert that the Protestant work ethic theory is false in regards to creating capitalism and that capitalism developed in pre-Reformation Catholic communities.

Refusal of work

Refusal of work is behavior in which a person refuses regular employment.As actual behavior, with or without a political or philosophical program, it has been practiced by various subcultures and individuals. Radical political positions have openly advocated refusal of work. From within Marxism it has been advocated by Paul Lafargue and the Italian workerist/autonomists (e.g. Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti), the French ultra-left (e.g. Échanges et Mouvement); and within anarchism (especially Bob Black and the post-left anarchy tendency).


A slacker is someone who habitually avoids work or lacks work ethic.

Steal This Book

Steal This Book is a book written by Abbie Hoffman. Written in 1970 and published in 1971, the book exemplified the counterculture of the sixties. The book sold more than a quarter of a million copies between April and November 1971.The book is, in the style of the counterculture, mainly focused on ways to fight the government, and against corporations in any way possible. The book is written in the form of a guide to the youth. Hoffman, a political and social activist himself, used many of his own activities as the inspiration for some of his advice in Steal This Book.

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism

The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (German: Die protestantische Ethik und der Geist des Kapitalismus) is a book written by Max Weber, a German sociologist, economist, and politician. Begun as a series of essays, the original German text was composed in 1904 and 1905, and was translated into English for the first time by American sociologist Talcott Parsons in 1930. It is considered a founding text in economic sociology and a milestone contribution to sociological thought in general.

In the book, Weber wrote that capitalism in Northern Europe evolved when the Protestant (particularly Calvinist) ethic influenced large numbers of people to engage in work in the secular world, developing their own enterprises and engaging in trade and the accumulation of wealth for investment. In other words, the Protestant work ethic was an important force behind the unplanned and uncoordinated emergence of modern capitalism. In his book, apart from Calvinists, Weber also discusses Lutherans (especially Pietists, but also notes differences between traditional Lutherans and Calvinists), Methodists, Baptists, Quakers, and Moravians (specifically referring to the Herrnhut-based community under Count von Zinzendorf's spiritual lead).

In 1998, the International Sociological Association listed this work as the fourth most important sociological book of the 20th century. It is the 8th most cited book in the social sciences published before 1950.

The Revolution of Everyday Life

The Revolution of Everyday Life (French: Traité de savoir-vivre à l’usage des jeunes générations) is a 1967 book by Raoul Vaneigem, Belgian author, philosopher and one time member of the Situationist International (1961–1970). The original title literally translates as, Treatise on Good Manners for the Younger Generations. John Fullerton and Paul Sieveking chose the title under which the work appears in English.

The Society of the Spectacle

The Society of the Spectacle (French: La société du spectacle) is a 1967 work of philosophy and Marxist critical theory by Guy Debord, in which the author develops and presents the concept of the Spectacle. The book is considered a seminal text for the Situationist movement. Debord published a follow-up book Comments on the Society of the Spectacle in 1988.

Tom Hodgkinson

Tom Hodgkinson (born 1968) is a British writer, and the editor of The Idler, which he established in 1993 with his friend Gavin Pretor-Pinney. His philosophy, in his published books and articles, is of a relaxed approach to life, enjoying it as it comes rather than toiling for an imagined better future. The Idler was originally a series of essays written by Dr Johnson from 1758 to 1760.

Woodstock Nation (book)

Woodstock Nation: A Talk-Rock Album is a book written by Abbie Hoffman in 1969 that describes his experiences at that year's Woodstock Music and Arts Festival. The book was written as Hoffman was awaiting trial as one of the Chicago Eight for conspiring to incite riots at the 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

Mostly written in a stream of consciousness style made popular by such works as Ulysses by James Joyce and On the Road by Jack Kerouac, Woodstock Nation focuses on youth culture, including Hoffman's views of rock music and politics. One target of Hoffman's criticism is Pete Townshend of The Who, with whom Hoffman tussled onstage at the Festival.

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