Detroit Today: Why work has become a religion for some

While people may not devote their entire life to it, Derek Thompson notes that Americans are wrapped in a culture that has produced strong devotion to work.

man types on a laptop and looks out a window

Today, some people, especially high-income workers, devote their lives to work as if it were a religion. They commit all their time, energy, beliefs and identity — wrapping their significance and self-worth into the things they are paid to do.

Writer Derek Thompson calls this phenomenon “workism” and he’s skeptical of its benefits.

“Many people look to work not just to have a sense of forward progress in their lives, but to define their lives.” — Derek Thompson, The Atlantic

Listen: How work’s meaning has changed in our lives


Derek Thompson is a staff writer at The Atlantic and the author of the Work in Progress newsletter. He recently published a collection of his articles in a book titled, “On Work: Money, Meaning, Identity.”

Thompson says work has taken on a completely new meaning in peoples’ lives.

“Many people look to work not just to have a sense of forward progress in their lives,” says Thompson, “not just to keep themselves alive, not just to busy their days — but to define their lives; to be the centerpiece of identity.”

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