Alone and Anxious: Addiction to Work as an Adaptation to Postmodern Dislocation

  • Anna Buhrmann


The majority of Canadians work upwards of forty-five hours a week, and nearly a third of Canadians identify themselves as addicted to work (Duxbury & Higgins, 2013, p. 6; Keown, 2008, p. 28).  This essay investigates the question: to what extent does the concept of addiction to work shed light on society’s anxieties? By examining values underpinning the free market economy and how they affect the daily rythym of human life, I argue that the pressures of postmodern life dislocate individuals within their social context.  In a need to alleviate the anxieties stemming from this instability, individuals often work excessively to establish a sense of identity and security. An unbalanced amount of work, however, exacerbates not only a person’s fears but their compulsivity to work, multiplying the detrimental effects to their daily lives.  In sum, because workaholism further distances us from social rootedness, it is crucial to question cultural acceptance of excessive focus and time spent on work.