Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Rudely Defined World

Much of the world is ill-defined and beyond our understanding.

But we reasonably try to define & explain what is happening around us. Such efforts are commendable, and have led humankind to huge achievements. However, serious problems regularly arise when interpretation & speculation become rigidly assumed to be fact. Scientists often note & comment upon the bits not fitting their model before defining them out of further consideration. As an arbitrarily-defined field of inquiry becomes a rigid paradigm, we become corralled into accepting something actively resistant to redefinition. Our peer community forcibly seeks to ignore that which has been defined as anomaly. More on these topics can be found in Popper's analysis of falsifiability, and in Kuhn (1962) The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.

Let's look at the example of "full time" work: in the USA and South Korea this is generally defined as a 40+ hour work week over some 50 weeks per year. Such working life impacts on wider life in numerous ways: the rewards of work are used during free time and for maintenance, the quality of non-work time is affected by the large (by definition "full") time dedicated to employment.

In Sweden, all employees have a guaranteed five-week holiday each year. Further, many people are able to work part of the week at home, or to arrive late & depart from work early due to family obligations. Many permanently employed people (tillsvidareanställda, fast anställda) choose voluntarily to work only a percentage of the normal work week. (I know many such people; I'll try to insert data here on how many such people exist). In sum, operating under the Korean definition of "full time work" there are very few Swedes working full time: perhaps five percent (5%) of the population... or even less.

This is not implying Swedes are lazy, or poor. Rather, many have found a balance of living in a flexible, more human focused system. The Korean "Pali Pali" (빨리빨리) hurry hurry system is defined here as unhealthy.

I'll write more later - time now for a coffee break.