Economics and Work for People and Planet

Book Cover: Why Work?

We humans are born to be full of life, expressing all different parts of ourselves through creativity while building a vibrant world together. The current world of work deadens this human potential by only valuing that which adds to abstract economic indicators and deprives us of the time and space to contribute in ways that are meaningful and empowering.

Why Work? shows us how we can change our policies, take action directly in our communities to carve out the space for us to reclaim our humanity, and engage in activities that reward our deeper needs, our communities and our planet as a whole. This is the Why of Work.

Publisher: Amaranth Press

Excerpt from Chapter 3: The Economics of Disempowerment:

What role do the present structures of work play in relation to this seemingly apocryphal scenario?

Society is geared towards economic growth. Governments measure their success in primarily economic terms, such as Gross National Product. A successful nation is seen to be one with high productivity rates. Conflicts between the treasury and social spending departments are common and intense, as the demands of a successful economy lead to cuts in government spending and the “streamlining” of business and industry, often resulting in the “downsizing” of the workforce. Economic theory has become an unquestionable faith, detached from the realities of people’s everyday lives. Cobb and Daly see at the heart of this what they call the “fallacy of misplaced concreteness.” We believe in the current economic system as if it were an unchangeable truth, yet it is human made and can be unmade.


These structures originated somewhere, and the history of scientific, rationalist thought that built the foundations of the present paradigm can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. The Industrial Revolution was a major turning point in the institutionalisation of the paradigm that has led us to where we are today. The structures of work and employment make up the core of the present system, reflecting the needs of the capitalist free-market economy. It is therefore essential to understand what lies behind the system, in order to see why people’s lives are being shaped the way they are, and what values are being promoted, especially in relation to our fundamental needs as human beings.

Reviews:Ken Wilber wrote:

Peter Merry's book addresses a central question faced by every human: Why should we work? His overview is lively, direct, readable, and very timely. With technological advances threatening to continue to eat away at employable jobs, new solutions are ever-more urgently required for human daily survival. Peter's work looks at this issue head-on, with both analyses and possible solutions. Well done!

Professor Wayne Visser wrote:

Why Work? is a brave treatise that refuses to shy away from Western capitalism's most vexing dilemmas, such as how to create meaningful work and halt the social cancer of growing inequality. Merry effortlessly weaves together philosophical, economic, political and even spiritual perspectives into a highly readable book that is as grounded in pragmatic solutions as it is uplifted by inspiring aspirations. Many of the policy ideas are rooted in the decades old "new economics" and "green politics" movements, which are only recently being taken up and stress tested by various governments around the world, especially in Europe. This makes the book highly contemporary and recommended reading for changemakers in government, business, civil society and academia. A fertile and far-reaching book of possible futures.

Barrett C. Brown, PhD wrote:

Once again, Peter Merry is years ahead with his thinking about global flourishing and what it takes for us to bring about a future that works for all. In this work he deftly weaves a tapestry of hope for our future from the threads of ecological economics, consciousness development, and social change theory. This mash-up of paradigms and trans-disciplinary thinking, combined with examples of practical, liberating structures for the individual and collective, is precisely the grounded wisdom that will stimulate real change. With this text, he will continue to positively influence those with authority, power, and influence for many years to come.

Bernard Lietaer PhD wrote:

Radical, Necessary, Different, and most importantly Timely!!

Herman Wijffels wrote:

When Peter wrote this he was ahead of his time, as ever. This book is not only still relevant, but very current.

Jim Garrison PhD wrote:

This is a brilliant exploration on the deep significance of work in the life of the individual and community. Work is what most of us spend most of our waking time engaged in and thus the challenge of how to make work meaningful and ecologically sustainable is perhaps the single most important priority for society, especially at a time such as ours in which alienation, exploitation, and social unrest are endemic worldwide. If we could crack the code for work that empowers individuals and communities, we could create a paradise on earth. Peter's book points the way.

  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Amaranth Press (December 14, 2019)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0998031720
  • ISBN-13: 978-0998031729
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.3 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.3 ounces