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Mathieu Samson-Savage

Mathieu Samson-Savage

Ph.D. candidate, Sociology, University of Ottawa
  • Interesting article. It offers a good reflexion of the social construction of the concept of a sick day. After all, what does that really mean?

    In the past, workplaces were more paternalistic. So, the sick day was easily defined. It was a day where you could do what you want, away from the all-seeing

    Interesting article. It offers a good reflexion of the social construction of the concept of a sick day. After all, what does that really mean?

    In the past, workplaces were more paternalistic. So, the sick day was easily defined. It was a day where you could do what you want, away from the all-seeing supervisors.

    In many workplaces, especially in low wage employment, this is still the case. For many, however, employment has become either more vocational (as it is the case for RBG), collaborative, or results driven. This means that in many fields that "employees" are no longer perceived as replacable cogs in a machine, but are perceived to be integral to the overall functioning of a system and sometimes the community, or even society. It is a consequence of a changing economy that sees manufacturing jobs replaced by work in the creative economy or in the service industry. Work that can be sometimes done at home thanks to technology.

    This has helped empower people by recognizing the value of their work, but it also increases the pressure there is on these individuals to perform at high levels all the time. Management's job, in these situations, isn't to babysit the employee, it's to assure that they get what they need to reach their goals, especially is fields where "talent" is perceived as a key to productivity.

    In this context, the sick day, becomes a day of reduced productivity. The empowerment related to work is linked to unavoidable responsibilities that can't be undertaken by others (in theory). This potentially anxiety enducing situation is the reason why some people work all the time. As it becomes more normal for people to have 'personal days' or sick days, the convention slowly shifts from a day off, to a day of work at home.

    While the initial perception may be that this represents a move in the right direction, it also means that the responsibility for productivity is slowly shifting away from employers to employees. Individuals are forced to produce, no matter the context, or suffer the consequences. Contract work, reduced unionization, and less stable employement has led to this instability and, in turn, the instability leads to a reconfiguration of the workplace and its rules.

    This shift isn't suprising. Workplace rules are becoming more relaxed because people, in some sectors, have to increasingly self-discipline, or else...

  • It is very interesting to read comments of CEOs on this article. Quartz really has something special here.

    Of course these CEOs would be baffled and parternalistic toward anyone's positive opinion of socialism, they are the very people who benefit the most for the inherent inequalities and suffering

    It is very interesting to read comments of CEOs on this article. Quartz really has something special here.

    Of course these CEOs would be baffled and parternalistic toward anyone's positive opinion of socialism, they are the very people who benefit the most for the inherent inequalities and suffering provoked by capitalism. This economic system based on the supposed merits of individuals and rooted in the values of the upper-class who control everything from its industries to its politics, its family structure, and its education system, has everything to give to these inheriters of social status. Without capitalism they could never have validated their superiority to others and flaunted their titles around as a sign of status (that Quartz perpetuates). Even more, without capitalism they could never have benefited from previous generations' concentration of wealth on the backs of the poor majority and could not secure their offsprings' "success" in this world of economic determinism. Instead, they look at the next generation with agism and contempt, questionning their intellect because their opinion doesn't fit a worldview rooted in privilege.

    What is even more suprising is the lack of understanding of what socialism strives for: equity, compassion, and tolerance. Instead they confuse socialism with totalitarism and dictatorships. They fail to recognize the anti-democraticness of capitalism and the democratic goals of a truly socialist state.

    It begs the question if they deserve a platform to spread their platitudes.

  • As a Canadian, it is so difficult for me to understand how the US population is willing to submit themselves to such a ridiculous, luck driven, system. From the outside, we hear the US is a country of opportunity where hard work determines social status. A quick look at what is actually happening and

    As a Canadian, it is so difficult for me to understand how the US population is willing to submit themselves to such a ridiculous, luck driven, system. From the outside, we hear the US is a country of opportunity where hard work determines social status. A quick look at what is actually happening and it is easy to tell that it is far from the truth. How is someone supposed to sleep at night without knowing if their life savings will have to be spent the next day on a stupid accident? How is a poor person supposed to pull himself out of misery in such conditions? And, how is an economy supposed to function if everyone needs tens of thousands of dollars in savings just for health care? What about those who don't have these savings? Foreclosure? Bankruptcy?

  • These stories are so upsetting. While the media focuses on the "safety" of donation boxes, no one talks about the real problem - poverty. This issue isn't new. Some people don't have what is necessary to lead their daily lives. Affordable housing in Canadian cities is becoming a unicorn, prices are climbing

    These stories are so upsetting. While the media focuses on the "safety" of donation boxes, no one talks about the real problem - poverty. This issue isn't new. Some people don't have what is necessary to lead their daily lives. Affordable housing in Canadian cities is becoming a unicorn, prices are climbing faster than income, and social security is stagnant (even decreasing in some provinces). The result is this. Maybe this woman was trying to get free things and got stuck. Maybe she was looking for a warm place to spend the night. The point is that if we don't want this type of thing (whether it be related to donation boxes or vents on the streets) to happen, we need to realize that our social security net is important. As long as we elect governments that would rather subsidize the oil industry instead of investing in its citizens, or municipal councils that look after land developpers instead of the tenants, we will have this type of incident. Banning donation boxes will not stop people needlessly dying from poverty. It will only hinder charitable groups' ability to help others.