"Work Better, Live Better: Motivation, Labor, and Management Ideology"

Jun 10, 2021

Here in the good ol' USA, a strong work ethic -- a drive to succeed through hard work -- is seen as a leading virtue, and indeed, as a necessity. We Americans have long been told that financial success and personal well-being will undoubtedly follow if we adopt a highly motivated mindset toward our job. On today's edition of ST, we look at the origins of that "highly motivated" outlook. Our guest is David Gray, a teaching professor of American studies and history at Oklahoma State University. His new book is "Work Better, Live Better." As was noted of this work by Kim Phillips-Fein, author of "Invisible Hands: The Businessmen's Crusade against the New Deal": "By focusing on the idea of 'motivation' and the level of effort, energy, and engagement that managers have historically put into attempting to shape the inner psychic lives and experiences of workers, Gray renders strange and unusual some of the most familiar tropes of economic culture."