Employability (Homoeconomicus)

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

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3 comments

  1. Anna · January 11, 2016

    This is not a hate comment, consider it a slighter deeper insight (or different perspective for the sake of respecting your opinion, uhm) into the topic you praise for its applicability to the corporate construct that is apparently smothering our individualities making us mere puppets of this capitalist show forcing us to prostitute ourselves to this order.
    We are not slaves. Now before you think I am idealizing the system or seeing the world in pink instead of its true colors think about this: why are you at this university? Okay, to learn new things which will ultimately make you employable. Do you have to be here? No. What would you be doing instead? Working most likely. Would you have to work? No. What would you do if you did not work? Live off the system as many choose to. The system you criticize will ultimately try and save you from dying on the streets. The system is constantly trying to help those that have also unwillingly hit rock bottom. You have a choice to go there. But do you want to? Isn’t it not better to work towards a society and change it for the better then tear it down? You see my point.
    What this doesn’t answer is whether you can escape society. Would you want to is the better question. Okay so you do not accept companies trying to shape you into their ideal worker. The problem with that is, they aren’t. People like to think their individual and everyone is special which is true, but we are still all just people meaning we will all have the tendency to like the same things, share the same interests, pursue the same goals. Do you see where this is going? People will tend to form groups with like-minded people. It is our nature. You cannot really fight that. Organizations are a sort of more complex version of this group with the addition that they also pursue profits. They pursue profits to feed its employees. Idealized? No, it is IDEAL. Making yourself more employable and learning to be your own entrepreneur just as homoeconomicus is really not that complicated. After all, the way the society is built now is only the results of centuries of development and advancement. Say you are not happy with this whole “I have to make myself employable and sell myself to employers”, well, then don’t. It won’t be easy. Now here comes that cliché you here over and over again – find what you are passionate for. Trust me, if you eventually do, it will most likely not be living rejecting society. When you find it you will no longer feel you are obligated to mold yourself into some job. You will know that is your passion, the passion that is you as its genuinely your interest and makes you happy. And isn’t that what life is about? #StayPositive Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christian Reeve · January 11, 2016

      Hi Anna,

      Thank you so much for taking the time to read my post and develop such a brilliant response.
      I can’t thank you enough. If nothing else, I want my blogs to inspire debate and to
      really get people thinking, more so than they allow themselves to.

      I both agree and disagree with what you are saying. For me personally, I understand humans to be
      forced to adhere to the requirements of society. The fact of the matter is this, whilst you make
      brilliant points regarding how society cares for us even when we do not necessarily want the help
      (i.e. your point regarding the choice to live off the system), this help is very minimal and is largely
      dependent on what part of the world you’re from (for example when I visited the USA in 2014 it was alarming
      to see the vast amount of homelessness across each state, and a complete lack of welfare or care).
      Citizens in the UK are very lucky to this effect, so don’t get me wrong, I am under no illusion that being
      a UK citizen makes me very lucky in many respects.

      My post was more focusing on our apparent obsession with material possessions and wealth, together with,
      how creative outlets such as music are now being marketed in such a way that they do not strive for
      creating something truly unique and something which echoes the human soul. For example, pick a pop song,
      any pop song, what is the main topic? , it’s usually sex, drugs etc. You could argue that most people
      just subscribe to these sorts of things, therefore, people are just buying a product promotes something
      they love. But if we consider it from another point of view, people also tend to follow trends and interests
      which are placed into their consciousness from external sources (i.e pop acts), so who has the power here?
      Is it the companies which produce the music and market the sound, the look and the subject matter in a bid
      to change interests among the public? Or is it the public who listen to the music and make a
      decision as to whether or not they enjoy these things? Essentially, is choice really a choice?

      Secondly, my thoughts on homoeconomicus were largely based on previous experiences I had in various businesses.
      I’ve found a correlation in terms of what each business is essentially looking for in terms of the correct
      type of ”worker”. My comparison to communism was to illustrate this trail of thought that ”nothing compares
      to this type of worker” and that in this particular regime, nothing less than that was acceptable.
      Of course, modern businesses are no way near this extreme and do not force people to work, however their ideas
      concerning how people should behave, should work and to a certain extent, should think are arguably comparable.

      As it happens, I have many passions and interests that make me exceedingly happy. I guess in many ways I am growing
      more and more disillusioned by this society, and the more I read, the more I learn and the more I travel, the greater
      this feeling grows.

      I hope this in some way addresses your points, in not please feel free to comment again.
      I really enjoyed reading your comment and gaining some insight into how you feel regarding this.

      Thank you.

      All the best

      Christian Reeve

      Like

  2. Frank · April 20, 2016

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    Like

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