I’m currently studying a management degree and we have been studying a module titled ‘Employability’. At first it seemed like a simple topic that just educates students on how to improve their CVs, and recognise their skills and qualities that would be applicable to their future careers.
However recently we’ve been studying an aspect of the module called ‘Theories of Employability’ which encompasses this ‘Homoeconomicus’ idealogy. Learning about this was fascinating and I thoroughly enjoyed debating about this with my fellow students.
The main reason it interested me is because I found myself applying it to my real-life experiences. This ‘Homoeconomicus’ or ‘the ideal worker’ is apparent throughout history and is still relevant more than ever. During communism in the Soviet Union the regime propagated the idea of ‘the ideal worker’, armed with his/her scythe or hammer and that the worker had to be ready for work at all times. This ideal has not changed.
Yes,in the western capitalist world you have a choice as to whether or not you engage in society and work for it. You might not be eliminated for failure to conform, but you are likely to be ostracised or arrested for
not contributing. You may just suffer because you are unwilling to take part. I am going on a slight tangent here, but are we not slaves in a manner of speaking?
Do we truly have the ability to say no and renounce society?
Will our lives still be enjoyable if this is our choice? Everything that I can see tells me the answer is no to both of these questions. So in this sense, we are slaves to societal values and the pursuit of financial gain.There is little or no room for individualism and creativity in its truest and purest form. Even when creative outlets such as art or music are brought forward into the public consciousness,they are quickly given a marketable value and a time limit for how long they are ‘trendy’, or to put it another way ‘potentially profitable’.Yes these are highly cynical views, but look around you, the evidence is everywhere and it’s as clear as day.
Just bringing things back to homoeconomicus, this subject intrigued me particularly because every workplace I have ever worked, every school or academic institution I have studied at and everything I have taken part in within society is always looking for that ‘perfect person’. This ‘ideal person’ that is a role model to everyone. Who everyone should look at and think ‘yeah, they’re getting it right, they’re the person we should follow’. Businesses in particular want this to be apparent and without them having to state it, because it’s more organic this way. If they have to explain what they want to you, it’s no different to them trying to force feed you. You will either swallow what they give you and regurgitate
it to others accordingly, or you will refuse and simply not be what they’re looking for.
I have definitely experienced this through working for various companies over the years. Some companies want you to adhere to a particular group mentality, they want you to love the company and consider it your family. They want you to consider it a part of you. They want you to internalise this trail of thought and act like a continual marketing campaign for their company. The more you speak about the company to others, the more you tell your friends how amazing and fantastic their company is, the more they will favour you over others. Businesses need to make profit, businesses need to advertise and market their brand in order to do this. They need people who are able and willing, or just prone to manipulation, people who cannot identify that are being exploited. They are ‘Homoeconomicus’.
– Christian Reeve