Notes on Reading Yascha Mounk’s The Week Democracy Died

Mounk believes we are in ‘a gradual descent into dictatorship’.


My insight back in August when I read Mounk’s piece: we can’t really understand — or change — the way work works (or doesn’t work) without looking at the sociological and political context for work culture.

So I plan a long-format piece or series is to lay out the following observations/arguments:

  • Most of what we discuss — in the growing discourse about the future of work — is really limited to knowledge workers and management (executives and the ‘professional’ class) that are the technocrats that emerged out of the industrial era, when professional managers’ legitimacy to lead is based on efficiency and productivity. Other workers — blue collar, freelancers, ‘pink collar’, and so on — are treated as cattle, adversaries, or at best, foot soldiers.
  • The 30 year increase in inequality in pay between rank-and-file and senior management is not independent of other elements of illiberal and undemocratic underpinnings of the current status quo in business: Lack of diversity in the workforce is a reflection of racial, gender, class, and cultural biases in society, and we have not reached an Edenic state.
  • Women continue to make 80% of what men do, still make up only 12% of senior management, and still lack comprehensive child care that could decrease the undue burden that child care puts on women, in the US.
  • The low levels of diversity in American business reflects the unequal playing field in education and access, but also the deep cultural conservatism that perpetuates — in effect — the dominance of male, white, and privileged professional managers in today’s business world.
  • Why are there so few cooperatives?
  • Why are unions so rarely discussed in the discourse about the future of work?
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