Quiet quitting and civil disobedience to ‘hustle culture’: winners and losers
I recently came across the term “quiet quitting,” or the conscious decision of employees not to exceed expectations without actually leaving their job, which is becoming increasingly popular among Gen Zs. It is seen as a way to resist the oppressive “hustle culture” that has taken over many workplaces. It is also viewed as an expression of dissent against workplace inequalities and injustices.
Although most people see it as a form to express indignation, some argue that engaging in quiet quitting may have adverse effects not only on your career development but on the productivity and performance of your colleagues as well.
Firstly, it is necessary to recognize why quiet quitting is considered a valid form of protest by many people. It is a form of defiance, and the working class needs to have the ability and avenue to express their discontent. Many workers are faced with situations in which they feel powerless to address issues such as unequal pay, long working hours, and heavy workloads. In these cases, choosing not to go above and beyond one’s full potential can serve as a way to regain some sense of agency and control. It can also be used to communicate to employers that there are deep-rooted issues that must be addressed. If anything, it reinforces the idea that the working class has historically opposed workplace injustices, regardless of the time period.
It can be likened to the concept of civil disobedience or the act of deliberately breaking the law or disobeying a mandate to challenge established systems. It is typically rooted in the belief that an existing law or policy that is unjust merits transformation. Civil disobedience has a long history, with notable examples including Mahatma Gandhi’s campaign for Indian independence, Martin Luther King’s fight for civil rights in the United States, and the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa. The only difference is that these movements were done in an organized manner.
While individual forms of defiance may serve as a way to unmask and bring to light previously unnoticed issues, they may not adequately address underlying problems in the workplace. The consequences of these measures could be detrimental, potentially outweighing any fleeting impact on toxic work culture, and may fall short of producing tangible change over the long term.
Big companies will remain business as usual and continue to profit from your labor no matter how much you lower your efforts and output quality. It is, therefore, equally important to recognize the limitations of individual action and the need for collective measures to bring about meaningful change.
Collective action is necessary to bring about a more substantial transformation and address systemic inequalities in the workplace. Employees should take advantage of opportunities to organize and amplify their voices to express their grievances. It could help challenge corporate cultures that foster toxic work environments or systems perpetuating wage disparities and unequal treatment.
Change does not happen in the blink of an eye, especially when there is an extensive array of elements and forces that despise any disruptions to the status quo. Effecting change does not depend on simply altering the way we see things through our myopic personal perspectives. Overhauling a system that breeds inequality is a gradual and painstaking process that requires an equally high level of commitment and untiring effort to put ourselves in the course of struggle.
Winning in an arena where the terms are determined by the same forces you are going up against can be arduous, particularly when your strategies are executed through an individualistic approach. Collective action is the pivotal element that levels the battlefield and serves as the deciding factor on who wins and who loses.
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