The article deals with the relationship between work and recognition, taking Axel Honneth’s social-philosophical theory of the struggle for recognition as its point of departure. In order to give sociological substance to Honneth’s theory, we turn to three contemporary social theorists - Jean-Pierre Le Goff, Christophe Dejours and Emmanuel Renault. In spite of many differences, their work is united by a critical description of the logic of work and its consequences for individual individuation. These theorists agree that the growth of autonomy, flexibility and mobility has destabilised individual and collective identity formation and has led to an increase in social pathological illnesses such as stress and depression. By juxtaposing these analyses with Honneth’s theory on recognition, we conclude that the contemporary logic of work is unable to provide adequate forms of recognition. Individuals are seemingly caught up in a continual battle for recognition without ever having the possibility of receiving proper respect.
Acta Sociologica, 2004, Vol 47, Issue 4, p. 374-387