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Imagining Books 17 August Aug 2018 0830 17 August 2018

Beach reading: five books on the future of work to bring with you under the beach umbrella

The holidays are starting, and between swimming and eating out, reading a good book is a nice way to break the tedium. Why not pick an essay on work to do so? Among unusual stories and thoughts on main world systems, you won’t get bored

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Every book takes on a special charm under the beach umbrella, whether it’s the great classics or the latest offering from your favourite author. But a good non-fiction also has its merits: in your beach chair, turning the pages of a fat book is often the best time to stop and think, digging deep into today’s most important topics. Like work. Are you thinking, you just got up from your desk, do you want to carry on thinking about deep, serious things? Not to worry: these five titles are not just food for thought on major social issues, but also a chance to learn something new, while being pampered by the sound of waves breaking on the shore. And who knows whether the contents might not turn out to be a terrific conversation topic for long walks on the beach...

“The post-work civilisation” by Nicola Zanardi, ed. Luca Sossella editore
Is it better to work to live well or not? These days it seems there are never too many questions on this topic: by now the border between equality and inequality in everyone’s life is ever more determined by access to a steady job. Could basic income be a solution, the revolutionary choice capable of giving a new identity – and dignity – to people? “The post-work civilisation” by Nicola Zanardi, businessman, populariser and digital communications professor at Milano Bicocca University, starts with these questions. A dissertation with a philosophic flavour to it, which studies in depth the role of innovation and technologies, from DNA and the internet to blockchains, with their powerful impact on today’s and tomorrow’s workaday world. A short reflection (130 pages) and without too many turns of phrase on training, leisure time and universal income, to start thinking concretely about a future that the author maintains “is already here”.

“The useless degree” by Gianfranco Viesti, Ed. Laterza
Gianfranco Viesti, the author of this in-depth study on higher education, is an economist and professor (at the University of Bari). This is the voice of an authoritative expert who is ideal for tackling an awkward trend today: that of the university and of the country being emptied not only of its resources but of its educated citizens. The premises are well known by now: where university education is directly proportionate to social inclusion and progress, Italy instead is disinvesting in its universities, study costs are increasing, the number of students is decreasing and researchers are leaving or remaining precarious. A manual for “unauthorised personnel” and a comprehensive overview to understand all the distorted dynamics of Italian university education, with the implications that inevitably arise and solutions that ought to be there instead.

“Neither exploited nor big babies. Solving the generational question to save Italy” by Francesco Cancellato, ed. Egea
Most of the problems Italy has nowadays started with a basic question: young people have been deprived of the possibility of following their dreams. This is the premise that starts off the book by Francesco Cancellato: a well-rounded essay on the topic of young people and work, but also about education, the economy and social security. If this topic has already been dealt with (and resolved) abroad for some time now, in our country it has created a slew of consequences that could have a potentially explosive impact: every time kids settle for a part-time job, they find themselves having to be supported by their families for longer, or they slip abroad, and Italy loses resources, value and wealth. By now this is a well-consolidated dynamic, the fruit of wrong-headed policies and a lack of foresight, not just for future generations but for the whole country. In order to program a fast and effective turnaround, says Cancellato, an abyss sits in front of us: this is why the “generational question” today is the most crucial one for our country. A timely analysis, to-the-point and with a wealth of data, to identify the strategy needed to change the cards on the table. Our very survival could depend on it.

“If you close, I’ll buy you”, by Paola De Micheli, Stefano Imbruglia, Antonio Misiani, ed. Guerini e Associati
More and more often, sadly, a company finds itself on the brink of bankruptcy: this is not only an economic defeat but a social one too, when the workers are at risk of losing their jobs, and with probably a family to support as well. But not if the employees buy the company themselves, coming together in cooperatives and creating new share capital. The phenomenon is called workers buyout, and in Italy it has come into being thanks to the Marcora law of 1985: an increasingly widespread practice that helps put not just the employees and their jobs back into play, but it also transforms skills and the spirit of solidarity into new material and social wealth. This book has stories from both those who made it to those who didn’t: a true picture with a big impact that tells how an economy can sometimes recover, even starting from the bottom.

“The Aranzulla method” by Salvatore Aranzulla, ed. Mondadori Electa
Who knows if Salvatore Aranzulla wanted to be an IT populariser since he was a child. Probably not. But life, as we know, is unpredictable, and in barely ten years that country kid ended up representing a true reference point in the world of high-tech with his website. How did he do it? He himself tells us in his entrepreneurial autobiography with a taste of innovation: an adventure that started out as a simple hobby as a blogger turned into a stand-out IT institution with 15 million hits a month. Aranzulla dedicates the first part of the book to telling how he got there, and in the second part, more practically, he explains step by step how to create a business on the internet starting from zero. Because you can, sure, but not without a strategy, tools and techniques: so be prepared to get all the tools of the trade, and who knows, maybe they will help you replicate his experience in other fields (obviously, tech is already spoken for).

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