The Exclusive Nature of Inclusive Productive Employment in the Rural Areas of Northern Ethiopia

Work Employ Soc. 2018 Dec;32(6):1044-1060. doi: 10.1177/0950017017716882. Epub 2017 Aug 18.


Inclusiveness, with its emphasis on productive employment, has become central in development policy. From this perspective, unwaged-work is condemned for not being sufficiently productive; that is, for failing to lift incomes above a poverty threshold. However, insights from the sociology of work reveal a range of unwaged activities that are potentially highly productive in their contribution to self-reliance. The article explores whether these activities are undermined by the promotion of inclusiveness. The case study takes place in Tigray, Ethiopia. Through semi-structured interviews, the activities of different households were classified according to a typology of work based on the work of Gorz, Illich, Wheelock, Taylor, Williams and others. Results show the heterogeneous character of work and shed light on the meaning of productivity. The article ends with a discussion on the risk that inclusiveness may be achieved by replacing activities 'that count' with activities 'that can be counted'.

Keywords: Ethiopia; employment; inclusive; inequality; informal; productive; work.