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Work is a major subject of study by the economist John R. Commons. The objective of this article is to question the extent to which Commons’s perspective offers a theoretical framework that sheds light on the importance of work in individual and collective human life, in contrast to the instrumental conception of work that is dominant in economics. Focusing mainly on the author’s writings between 1901 and 1919, as well as on later works written from a more theoretical perspective, we show that Commons considers work as a fundamental activity from a psychological and, above all, political point of view through its defense of “industrial democracy.” He then appears as a promoter of the thesis of the “centrality of work,” which is not very present among economists.

  • economic institutionalism
  • Wisconsin school
  • work
  • industrial democracy
  • firm
Benjamin Dubrion
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