Modern society is based on the interaction of workers who want to rationally shape nature, including our social nature. In fact, work, which involves today, more than in the past, an expenditure of personal energy aimed at modifying, according to an instrumental rationality, the physical or social environment. At the same time it transforms not only the worker, physically, mentally and spiritually, but also society. The relationship between services and powers is reversed.
This article presents the relationship today between human beings and their work environment in terms of physiological constraints, mental adaptation and inclusion in society. The second part of this study, to be published in a future issue, will focus on the spiritual dimension of work.
During the Covid-19 pandemic in the year 2020, Pope Francis promoted the establishment of a reflection group on the human dimension of work. The group is a collaboration of various offices of the Holy See, their international networks and the Vatican’s Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development. The two principles on which these reflections were based – at the crossroads between the “decent work” agenda, a long-term project developed by the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva, and the “integral ecology” promoted by the encyclical Laudato Si’ (2015) – can be summed up in the evocative formula “Care is work, work is care,” a care that is as attentive to the worker as it is to the planet.
The report produced by this think tank clearly defines the scenario, identifying, in addition to the psychosomatic experience of work, four specific dimensions: work may be seen as an economic, ecological, social and spiritual reality. Here we will discuss the first three aspects; the fourth, the spiritual dimension of work, will be the subject of another essay.