Author Archive

Ruth Yeoman

Dr. Ruth Yeoman is a Research Fellow at the Saïd Business School and Kellogg College. She runs the Centre for Mutual and Employee-Owned Business, Kellogg College, University of Oxford. Her PhD is on 'Meaningful Work and Workplace Democracy'.

Meaningful work is an ideal with a long history. It retains a strong hold upon the popular imagination. Whether it is work which is useful, involving, worthwhile, satisfying or inspirational, we all know meaningful work when we see it. Generally, we think of meaningful work as a luxury good or scarce resource – something a few lucky people possess, and which is simply a matter of private interest. We do not think of meaningful work as important for social development, or take seriously the possibility that all work ought to be meaningful. This is despite the fact that having to do non-meaningful work harms a person – including poor health outcomes, frustrated human capabilities, diminished life chances, or even the absence of a sense that life is worth living. And in any case, since most of the work we do is irretrievably dull, repetitive or subject to hierarchical authority, hankering after meaningful work for everyone seems unattainably utopian.