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Antiwork

The term antiwork is used in reference to a movement or ideology whose members aspire to stop working or work as little as possible—and encourage others to do the same. For some, the foundation of this ideology involves the belief that paid labor as it currently exists in capitalist and industrial systems should be abolished entirely due to being inherently exploitative. Antiwork is also used as the name of the subreddit r/antiwork (a subforum of the website Reddit), which popularized the term. Antiwork ideology is closely associated with the forum. Perspectives and beliefs vary among users of the forum and people who identify as members of the movement. Many aspire to reduce their participation in paid labor as much as possible. Some also advocate for its complete abolishment as part of a radical restructuring of society. Many principles grouped under the term antiwork are based on, are part of, or overlap with Marxist philosophy and communist and anticapitalist views. Still, more moderate members advocate not for no work at all but rather for less work and better working conditions and wages. Some of the core beliefs of antiwork ideology shared among many members are that work and working conditions are frequently exploitative and actively degrade the dignity and wellbeing of workers; that a person’s value is not (and should not be) based on their work or productivity in the context of work; that employment dynamics are inherently inequitable; and that much work is meaningless. The antiwork movement is sometimes noted for its parallels to the movement among Chinese young people known as lying flat (or tang ping), which involves working less as a rejection of the demands of professional life and consumerist culture. As awareness of and participation in the antiwork forum and movement grew in 2021 and early 2022, it came to be frequently discussed in relation to the Great Resignation, the widespread trend of workers quitting their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The trend is thought to be the result of many different factors, notably workers’ dissatisfaction with current working conditions and personal reassessments of career and lifestyle due to the changes and hardships of the pandemic. However, in many cases, many of those resigning were in fact moving on to new jobs. In contrast, many members of the antiwork movement aspire to leave the workforce altogether. Some members of r/antiwork use the term Idlers to refer to themselves. In terms of grammatical usage, the term antiwork is typically used as a modifier in phrases like antiwork movement or antiwork ideology, as opposed to being used like a noun in the way that anticapitalism is. It’s also sometimes used as an adjective to describe a person’s views, as in I’m antiwork.


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