The science of oppression. Devised in the mid-20th century as a means of improving worker efficiency in repetitive tasks such as filing and taking bathroom breaks, it was soon twisted into a perverse—but profitable—system of health maintenance.1 Instead of rethinking damaging work conditions,2 employers found ways to stretch their workers' capacities to meet their tools' needs via cybernetic enhancements such as wrist guards, lifting belts, and I/O-enhanced furniture.3 (See also "Foucault, Michel" and "Industrial Prison Techniques.")
Modern employers look with hopeful eyes to the Human Genome Project (separate entry) to help produce workers with spines and joints better suited to long-term sitting or standing, lower desire for diverse sensory stimulation,4 and shorter windows of unproductive years before and after5 functional work life. Augmenting humans to meet the needs of the market through molecular biology will introduce an unprecedented era of nanoliberation6 for shareholders worldwide.
1. In conformance with the JCE (Just Comfortable Enough) theory of keeping employees from breaking down physically or emotionally until just before their usefulness to the company expired. This minimized long-term legal and training costs while maximizing the ratio of employee satisfaction to dollars spent on their care.
2. E.g., long-term computer use, repetitive lifting, casual Fridays, etc.
3. OSHA-approved chair-embedded mice and keyboards have been proven to enhance workers' sense of autonomy with little to no concomitant threat of manifested anti-authoritarian behavior; generally the self-direction is limited to consumer choices (see "Lifestyle—Groceries" or "Beverages, Herbal/Energy" for examples).
4. Given that boredom is both a key cause of workplace fatigue and a vital consumer function exploited by savvy marketing professionals, this is a delicate issue unlikely to find quick resolution.
5. Currently about 16 years fore and aft, or over 40 percent of the life span. This unproductive time is not accompanied by simultaneous high levels of consumption, and employers are understandably eager to increase the percentage of time devoted to work (see "Telecommuting").
6. One of many late-20th-century coinages exploiting post-millennial lifestyle expectations engendered by science-fiction media; these buzzwords were merrily substituted for their unprefixed ancestors. Thus Cyberculture (see entry) replaced culture, techgnosis displaced gnosis, and most other pre-Wired nouns and verbs acquired a noticeably unsilent "e-."
Rob Lightner, Contrib.