Name Your Industry—or Else!

Essay by Sarah M. Brownsberger on “The dehumanizing way economics data describes us”: “…My alma mater wants to know what industry I belong to. In a wash of good feeling after seeing old friends, I have gone to the school website to update my contact information. Name and address, easy, marital status, well and good—but next comes a drop-down menu asking for my “industry.”

In my surprise, I have an impulse to type “Where the bee sucks, there suck I!” But you can’t quote Shakespeare in a drop-down menu. You can only opt only for its options.

The school is certainly cutting-edge. Like a fashion item that you see once and assume is aberrant and then see ten times in a week, the word “industry” is all over town. Cryptocurrency is an industry. So are Elvis-themed marriages. Outdoor recreation is an industry. A brewery in my city hosts “Industry Night,” a happy hour “for those who work in the industry”—tapsters and servers.

Are we all in an industry? What happened to “occupation”?…(More)”.

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