Working Vocabulary: Why Talking About Work Matters

Sarah Skwire

This is a talk about work — and about what we say when we talk about it. Work — all kinds of it (at home, at the office, on farms and in factories, all the way up and down the pay-scale) — is the engine that drives the free market. If we care about markets and we care about the liberty that the market enables we have to be willing to tangle with the challenges of talking seriously about all kinds of work.

The economist Dierdre McCloskey says that the biggest push to bring us into the modern world was a change in the way we spoke and wrote about work and business. That means that what we say when we talk about work matters. It matters if we think and say that work makes you “a slave to the man” or “a cog in the corporate machinery.” It matters that we think and say work is degrading. Or fulfilling. Or creative. Or deadening. Right now we’re having a sort of long-term human crisis about work and what it means — and that means we have an opportunity, a really important one, to have a discussion about work that is clear-eyed about its problems, but also optimistic about its possibilities. The goal of this talk is to spark that discussion.

About the speaker

Sarah Skwire is a senior fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc., a non-profit educational foundation, and the co-author of the college writing textbook, "Writing with a Thesis," which is in its 12th edition. Sarah has published a range of academic articles on subjects from Shakespeare to zombies and the broken window fallacy, and her work has appeared in journals as varied as Literature and Medicine, The George Herbert Journal, and The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. She writes a regular column for the Freeman Online and blogs for the Fraser Institute and Bleeding Heart Libertarians. Skwire's work on literature and economics has also appeared in Newsweek, The Freeman and in Cato Unbound, and she is an occasional lecturer for IHS, SFL, and other organizations. Her poetry has appeared, among other places, in Standpoint, The New Criterion, and The Vocabula Review. She graduated with honors in English from Wesleyan University, and earned a MA and PhD in English from the University of Chicago.

Free lunch buffet provided.

Co-sponsored with the School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership.

Department: 
Center for the Study of Economic Liberty
Contact: 
Mason Hunt, MPA
Sep 09 2019 - 12:00pm
Location: 
University Center Building, La Sala C
Campus: 
West campus
Price: 
Free