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The Normalization of Hustle Culture under Capitalism

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UWindsor chapter.

Current Capitalist Domination Over Economies

Capitalism is a term that many people are familiar with and is defined as an economic model characterized by the privatization of corporations and a for-profit business model. Many countries operate under this model in some shape or form – even Communist or Socialist countries allow for private ownership to a certain degree. On the surface, capitalism seems like an effective model and is even seen as liberating, as people have the chance to control their own properties and have ownership. On the contrary, capitalism breeds negative effects that take a toll on the average person, including hustle culture. In combination with the digital age, the hustle culture movement has evolved into something more prevalent and a topic that needs to be urgently discussed.

The Effects of Hustle Culture under Capitalism

The normalization of hustle culture under capitalism is dangerous as it idealizes unhealthy working habits and burnout. As amazingly said in an article by the Defiant, “hustle culture is dangerous in the sense that it praises overworking and prioritizing work overall which results in shaming (both intentional or unintentional) people who don’t want to work all the time for monetary success.” Not everyone is monetarily motivated, and even the people who aremight not be so enticed to the point where they would want to be workaholics. However, the hustle ethic that exists under capitalism has caused people to adorn a habit of constantly working and normalizing unpaid overtime at work in order to stay afloat. People who do not wish to do so are unwillingly dragged into this toxic work environment, as they are afraid of getting fired. After all, hustle culture inadvertently breeds competition amongst coworkers.

Furthermore, a dissertation paper suggests that the hustle ethic presents itself differently among races, gender, and economic classes. The same paper highlights how people of color are more likely to be presented with misinformation online, which leads to the possibility of missing viable and promising opportunities to climb up the economic ladder. As a result, these people are more likely to venture on risky businesses and adorn the toxic hustle work culture. Hustle culture in itself is dangerous and toxic. On top of this, the layer of racism and social inequality being displayed is appalling and needs to be made aware. Capitalism gives the delusional idea that if you work hard enough, you will be able to get rich and move up in society. As evidently shown, the disproportionate opportunities being displayed to certain groups of people makes one wonder if capitalist societies are rooting for the underdogs or reinforcing the status quo.

Personal Views and Experiences

I once had a conversation with someone about how Elon Musk is reported to be a workaholic and how he expects his employees to be just as committed as he is. When I mentioned that this was unfair and that Elon seems like a “sh*tty boss”, my friend defended his work ethic by saying that it was necessary so that the company can stay at the top and that the workers could leave for another company if they wanted to. He also brought up how their paychecks make it worth the work. But that’s the fundamental problem: normalizing such behavior in order to stay successful within the industry subsequently leads to other companies adopting the same toxic work ethic in hopes of gaining success. This means that employees in these industries – in this specific case, the tech industry – would not be able to escape this unhealthy work environment by switching to a different company because all companies exhibit the same work environment. Now, I would not blame Elon Musk as the cause of all this (I am sure that the hustle environment within the sector existed before him), but he is definitely promoting such behavior.

Personally, I view the existence of hustle culture in itself as a testament to our society’s glamourization of overworking and unhealthy boundaries in the workforce. It feels like people have to do the absolute most just to survive, and this is not an ideal society to be living in. Having to constantly compete with faceless people because everyone is so busy looking out for themselves isolates people from one another and prevents the opportunity for people to connect with each other. I see this notion in the stereotype where people are extremely individualistic and out to get one another in big cities, where the community is often scarce while at the same time much needed in a society. The thought of having to go above and beyond with everything just to stay afloat seems exhausting.

It does not come as a surprise to me that people are starting to give up on hustle culture and instead are choosing to live life more relaxingly. I think we as a society have slowly come to the realization that the intense pursuit of monetary gain does not give as much fulfillment as one had hoped, and we are slowly trying to build an identity outside of work. It is already starting to happen, where the ‘lying flat’ movement in China is gaining popularity. The movement surrounds the idea of putting work second and letting go of the workaholic mentality.

Daphne Chen

UWindsor '23

Daphne is majoring in International Relations and Development Studies with an Economics minor in UWindsor. Her hobbies include painting, reading, writing, and learning about niche topics among other things. She hopes to one day be able to make a small difference in this world, but she doesn’t know when, what, and how.