A Twenty-First Century Challenge
Through their work, human beings construct themselves and construct their world: they are ‘homo faber’. However, for centuries, active life has taken the form of trades, professions, functions, careers and jobs. As early as the nineteenth century, these forms of work have given rise to severe criticism about their harmful consequences for workers, and for those close to them. Two concepts have relayed this critical current in the twentieth century: those of ‘humane work’ and ‘decent work’. The accumulation of crystallised work in the form of money, the development of technology permitting instantaneous communication across the four corners of the world, together with the spread of inexpensive modes of transport have made the emergence of a globalised financial capitalism at the end of the twentieth century possible. This phase of capitalism has produced extreme differences in wealth and a globalisation of non-humane and non-decent working conditions. Moreover, this financial capitalism, in conjunction with a massive growth of population worldwide, exerts such an ecological footprint that it threatens the survival of human life on earth. It is therefore urgent to help people build active lives that enable them to face these challenges. To this end, two avenues are explored in this chapter: first, the transformation of current career education into an education for active lives that promote equitable and sustainable development through decent and humane work and, secondly, the design of counselling interventions, whether for individuals or collectives, to help establish viable systems for organising work, based on the principle of ecological subsidiarity.