The nineteenth-century periodicals on this site fascinatingly illustrate not just how the world of work has changed, but also expose how attitudes about work have changed so little. The fundamental themes of the periodicals frequently offer a direct parallel to similar discussions about work today. Although the language used may contrast with ours in terms of its focus on (in the British Workman and British Workwoman) the household and Christian values, in other periodicals all that is different is the technology: profit and efficiency, usefulness and time saving, along with contradictory pulls towards both community (“we’re all in this together”) and competitive individualism (“I’ve got to do better than you”) are all familiar to us at work.
The language of work that underpins the moralising messages are profoundly relevant to the way we discuss work in the early twenty-first century. Many of these blog posts explore how the motivations of work continue to be circulated through three main concepts: monetary stability, ambition and achievement, and identity and status. Others offer considerations of the impact of the media that are all too familiar to us today.
Olivia Corley and Tierney Shave