Examining the History of Work

Erectheion from 406 BC

The role of work in western societies has changed significantly since the dawn of recorded history. Some of the earliest influences on how people in the 21st century view work began before the time of Christ and can be traced from the Hebrews and Greeks. Knowledge of the history of work and work ethic can provide a perspective of the different views people have about work and attitudes toward work in the modern era.

Hadrian's Arch from 132 AD

Most of the materials provided in the written document that can be downloaded have been available on this website for a number of years. The Historical Context of the Work Ethic provides an overview of attitudes toward work beginning with some of the earliest written records and explains the development of work ethic over the centuries.

As a result of the popularity of this document, journalists have contacted the author over the years for interviews and requested further information about research related to work and work ethic. One of the more prominent of these was an interview by Jeremy Hobson on NPR's Marketplace. This segment of the program examined where the American work ethic came from. The web page for the program is located at http://www.marketplace.org/topics/life/where-did-american-work-ethic-come.

The Historical Context of the Work Ethic is provided as a PDF document and can be downloaded from the link here. Some updates have been applied to this document but most of it was included in the original work that was contained in the dissertation by Hill, The Work Ethic as Determined by Occupation, Education, Age, Gender, Work Experience and Empowerment (Doctoral dissertation, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, 1992). Dissertation Abstracts International, 53-07A, 2343.