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André Baier
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Aktuelle Version vom 27. Januar 2021, 10:32 Uhr

4-in-1 Perspective - Frigga Haug - digital


Work occupies a central place in the lives of most people in the Global North and especially in Germany. Work is usually reduced to production work and more precisely to wage-based employment. This form of work is associated with a strong social esteem, so that for many people production work is both self-assurance and self-staging. The flip side is that other forms of work are not well recognised.

Frigga Haug's 4-in-1 perspective describes four forms of work people do: 1) production work, 2) reproduction/care work, 3) cultural work/own development and 4) political work. This distinction of human activities makes it possible to analyse how activities are distributed among different groups of people and how some groups are excluded from activities altogether.

The participants show in a quiz about the 4-in-1-perspective, how they understood Frigga Haug. They also select a group they can identify with and analyse what the 4-in-1-perspectives means to this group as a realistic political action. They do the same with a group they cannot identify. During seminar there is enough time for group discussions so they can share their results. They also identify what the 4-in-1-perspective means to them personally and define an action as group-follow-up to get a step further to the 4-in-1-Balance.

4-in-1 Perspective - Frigga Haug - digital
Using the 4-in-1 perspective to analyse the relation between different societal groups. Take a closer look on how society could look like with living the 4-in-1-Perspective in personal and public life.
4-in-1 perspective, gainful employment, work, production work, wage labor, reproduction work, care work, culture, politics, societal decision making
Accepting perspectives, gaining knowledge across disciplines, dealing with incomplete and over-complex information, overcoming individual decision-making dilemmas, reflecting on mission statements, acting morally, supporting others
Forms of Learning
system oriented
working in small groups
Group Size
60 minutes
Material and Space
text 4-in-1-perspective
very good - basic building block in Berlin
Winter Semester 2020/21

Preparation and Follow-Up

Facilitators preparation

The facilitator grasps the 4-in-1 perspective of Frigga Haug as a whole using the literature list. The facilitator understands the four terms production work, reproduction work, cultural work and politics as used by Frigga Haug. The facilitators ensure that they do not use the everyday meaning of the terms but make sure that they use the meaning developed by Frigga Haug. The facilitators evaluate the preparatory e-learning of the participants and translate it in the forum.

Participants’ Preparation

The participants read the text “What is actually revolutionary about the four-in-one-perspective?” from Frigga Haug. They then complete the e-learning unit to check their understanding of the 4-in-1-perspective, which is also a check for the facilitators. They also select one of the given groups with which they can identify with and one which they cannot identify with. The participants analyse what an implementation of the 4-in-1-perspective would mean to these groups and if the groups are capable of implementing it or if it is desirable from their perspective.

Participants’ Follow-Up

The participants apply the 4-in-1 perspective to their own lives and work out options for actions to shape their lives in the sense of the described balance of 4-in-1. They agree as a group on one action / deed / … to live their life more in a sense they want it to be. The success of this project will be compared in another session.


Minute 00 - Introduction


Facilitators introduce the topic to the participants and explain how the building block will take place using the prepared forum.


Overall aim of the building block

  • introduce you to the 4-in-1 perspective
  • better understanding of what work generally means
  • talking about who is doing which work in our society


  • 00:00 - Introduction
  • 00:05 - Discussion in the big group
  • 00:20 - Discussion on groups you can’t identify with
  • 00:35 - Discussion on groups you can identify with
  • 00:55 - Preparation and Follow-Up

Minute 05 - What does the 4-in-1 Perspective wants - group work


The facilitator introduces Frigga Haug as the author of the text. They underline that Frigga Haug has a feministic background and that the text is to be read in this context. This supports a better understanding of the article and it’s messages. The following discussion in the group is for all participants to understand the text’ message and discuss it. Ideally, one facilitator moderates the discussion of the group while another facilitator takes notes on a white board summarizing the discussion. The notes are shared on the screen for all.


Frigga Haug

  • sociologist / psychologist / social psychologist
  • born in 1937, times of second world war
  • both of her parents were were in the Nazi German Student Union
  • marxist feminist
  • professor at the Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
  • visiting professorships all around the world

Questions for group discussion

  • What does Frigga Haug mean when talking about the 4-in-1 perspective?
  • What does the text demand? How are the four areas working together?
  • According to the text, how should society deal with these four areas?
  • What do you think about the text and its demands?

Minute 20 - discussion on groups you can’t identify with - 20 min.


Discussion round one takes place in groups of 5 to 6 people. The facilitators introduce the tasks for the group work. The participants use the 4-in-1 perspective to adopt the views of different social groups. The aim of the group work is to discuss the 4-in-1-perspective from positions the participants can’t identify, but already dealt with.


Overview of Tasks - 15 min.

  • Task 1: Present the prepared groups you have no relation to
  • Task 2: Talk about society and the 4-in-1 perspective

Task 1 - Present the prepared groups you have no relation to - 5 min.

  • Introduce the group you can’t identify with shortly to each other
  • In which section of 4-in-1 would you locate the group?
  • Why do you see this group in these areas and not in others?

Task 2 - Talk about the society and 4-in-1 - 15 min.

  • What does the scissors of inequality have to do with the groups you presented to each other?
  • Do you think the groups are willing and/or capable of acting in different areas?
  • What or who might hinder these groups to evolve in other areas?
  • How do we justify as a society that some groups can be active in all areas and others can not?

Scissors of Inequality

Moreover, inequalities among people as a result of nature are not nearly as great as they become through education. Johann Gottfried Herder

The various human rights declarations stipulate with slight variations: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” (UN Human Rights Charter). Despite this, there is great inequality between people. These inequalities arise from gender, class, ethnicity, income, wealth, age, religion, parental home, level of education, sexuality, reputation, health as well as many other factors and they come along with either strong advantages or disadvantages. We are all born equal (though the circumstances of birth can be very different), but because of socialization people are made unequal: To what extent do we want to support this inequality as a society?

Minute 35 - discussion on groups you can identify with - 25 min.


The facilitator divides the participants into groups of 5. The participants now have the chance to share the groups they identify with. The aim is to negotiate all the different needs of the group members and come to a common resolution of how to intervene in their own life.


Overview of Tasks: 4-in-1 from a personal perspective

  • Task 1: Talk about you as individual - 15 min
  • Task 2: Prepare your follow-up and post it in the forum - 10 min

Task 1 - Talk about you as individual - 15 min

  • In which areas do you see yourself?
  • Do you see yourself (only) in the areas of the group you can identify with?
  • In which range of 4-in-1 would you see yourself to get closer to the 4-in-1-balance?
  • What are your possibilities to change your life to get there?

Task 2 - Prepare your follow-up - 10 min

  • Agree on a small but concrete resolution as a group that brings you closer to where you want to be in the range of 4-in-1
  • Post the resolution as reply to this post
  • Follow-Up: Try to act accordingly to that resolution until xx.xx.xxxx

Minute 35 - Follow-Up and Preparation - open end


The participants are asked to apply the 4-in-1 perspective to their own lives. As a group they formulate a resolution to shape their own lifes in the sense of the described balance in the 4-in-1-perspective. They agree as a group on one action / deed / … . The success can be compared in a later session of the seminar.


4-in-1 Perspective by Frigga Haug

  • Post your resolution as a reply in the forum
  • Try to act accordingly to that resolution until xx.xx.xxxx


Authors’ Notes

The building block was initially developed for the seminar Critical Sustainability in the digital summer semester 2020 and successfully tested there with 100 participants. It was further developed for the international Blue Engineering seminar with 50 participants from different countries with different backgrounds. This building block offers a great opportunity for the participants to talk about the different groups they identify with in regard to their international backgrounds.

Further Notes

Still to come.



Participants’ Preparation


The facilitator makes the text “For a life more just. The four-in-one-perspective” available in the forum to read, at least one week before the session. To check their understanding the participants are asked to answer questions in the forum and comment and other participants answers. The participants are also asked to do further analyses for the implementation of the 4-in-1-perspective - from the perspective of a group they can identify with and one group they can not. The aim is to discuss the 4-in-1-perspective away from the personal perspective in a broader political context.


Task 1: Answer the following questions

  • Answer these questions as a post in this forum:
  • What does Frigga Haug mean when she talks about wage labor/ reproductive work/ political work/ individual development?
  • Who is doing wage labor/ reproductive work/ political work/ individual development in our society?
  • According to the text, how should society deal with these four areas?
  • Do you see yourself more as a consumer or a producer of wage labor/ reproductive work/ political work/ possibilities for individual development?
  • interact with each other: comment other answers as a reply, add further thoughts, ask questions (also if you didn’t understand Frigga Haug/ understood her differently)

Tasks 2: Analysis of two societal groups regarding the 4-in-1-perspective

  • First: Choose two groups
    • Group 1: Choose a group you have no relations to
    • Group 2: Choose a group you identify with

The groups

  • Children & Teenagers
  • Persons who has just become unemployed
  • Career Starters
  • Asylum seekers
  • Housemen / Housewives
  • Federal Ministers
  • Homeless people
  • Directors of a large company
  • Cleaners
  • Harvest Hands
  • Actors / Actress’
  • Pensioners
  • any group you can think of

Then: Answer the following questions for both of the groups

  • take notes while answering the following questions
  • In which areas of 4-in-1 does the group act nowadays?
  • How much power do members of this group have to divide their time according to 4-in-1?

Text to read

For a life more just. The four-in-one-perspective.

Without a vision – however uncertain – as to how a new society would be like, it is difficult to be involved in politics that can engage many. Some orientation has been provided during the last 150 years through workers’ movements seeking to overcome alienated wage labor and fight in the here and now for wages, collective bargaining and jobs. It is against this kind of concept of liberation that the women’s movements of the 20th century came forward, insisting that there is more to work than that which we find in the form of wage labor. They stressed that the sphere of the home was both a site of unfreedom as well as one of the human provision of care - and that recognizing house- and family-work is basic for a kind of thinking which takes the liberation of all human beings as its goal. Karl Marx makes even more explicit that which is not sufficiently clear in either of these movements: that the development of each individual should be a precondition for the development of all. Translated into our sober language, what is meant is that a goal of liberation must be to allow the capacities that lie dormant in each of us to unfold. And finally, in all of these – the workers’ movements, the women’s movements and in the question of the individual development of each - there is a precondition which is so fundamental that it even seems superfluous to name it: The liberation of humans can only be taken up by themselves, it cannot be fought for them, it cannot be an act from above. “When we do not free ourselves it remains without consequence for us,” wrote Peter Weiss. Politics for a different society as our current one must mean politics from below.

Life is more than labor

More and more people cannot access the realm of labor or no longer earn wages. Tired, weary and discouraged they see all hope for change in demands for wages and workplace security of those who are still ‘laboring’. It is against this that I searched for a utopia that does not dismiss this kind of action, but which at the same time incorporates the hope of many others and strives towards a humanly dignified goal. The art of politics, as I learned recently from Rosa Luxemburg, is not about defining the “right” goal and then implementing it; the art of politics is about building connections, about creating a space of orientation which can recontextualize fragmented struggles. I take my consternation seriously when the government promises to create more work – as if we didn’t have enough work about us, necessary for the survival of society and which remains undone. It is not about magically coaxing new work out of a hat but about distributing the work that we have in a just manner. That does not mean allocating workplaces equally to all capable of working. It means instead that all of us can conceive of distributing all human activities – employment, reproduction, our own development and politics – proportionally among each of these spheres. Since, according to our framework we have way too much work, we can depart from a concept of a workday entailing sixteen hours. In this workday each of the four dimensions of life, in an ideal-type calculation, are allotted four hours each. This is obviously not conceived of mechanically, something to be carried out with a stopwatch. Rather it should serve as a compass to steer each of our steps. In the first part, in the well-known sphere of wage labor it is immediately clear that to speak of a crisis, because we’re running out of labor, departs from a highly restrictive concept of labor and clings on to this concept – no matter at what cost. Yet from the perspective of a more integral concept of life and its human conduct the situation looks radically different. A new guiding principle in labor politics would mean a necessary shortening of every person’s labor time to one fourth of the time spent actively, that is to four hours. Thus, the problem of unemployment including precarious and part-time employment would be obsolete since we would then have fewer people than workplaces. According to this concept, we all pursue part-time employment and the term itself ceases to be meaningful. We can concentrate on the quality of work and on the question of whether each is provided for adequately in the deployment of their capabilities. Thus, it will no longer be necessary to carry out labor involving the same repetitive movements as in Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times. But also the modern form of work in front of the computer screen, exerting an unilateral burden on us should be taken critically, leading towards a concept of labor which joins the greatest possible diversification with the development of all human senses.

Emancipation for everyone

Reproductive work, the second of the four dimensions, is not only to be conceived of as work around house and family. It brings together all which is necessary for the reconstruction of civil society. It encompasses work on each of ourselves and on others – that which we are used to defining as the human dimension of humans. And that which led Marx, following Charles Fourier, to note that, “the degree of women’s emancipation is the natural measure of general emancipation” since it is “here, in the relation of women to men, of the weak to the strong, that the victory of human nature over brutality most clearly appears.” When also the weaker may develop in the same measure, what is truly human surfaces, also encompassing love. According to Marx, it is “in the relation of man to woman” that is decided “to what extent the needs of humans… have become a human need, the extent to which he, in his individual existence, is at the same time a social being”. This applies also to the elderly, the handicapped, the ill, and includes even our relationship to nature. In Grimm’s fairy tales the relationship of ecology and help among humans is shown with foresight. An old woman kneels on the ground and sews together the torn up earth. When the youngest son of the king inquires about her doing, she in turn asks about his. This is how she can help him in his search for the fountain of life for his dying father.

For reproductive and family work this means first and foremost its generalization. Just as no one should be left out of employed labor, the same applies to reproductive work. All humans, men and women can and should develop their social human capabilities. This resolves the contention surrounding payments for child-rearing without devaluing the quality of the work that is carried out in this area. On the contrary, only now, in its generalization, rather than its being assigned only to women and mothers, is it possible to achieve our demand that reproductive work is skilled work and as such needs to be learned, just as applies to other labor. The third area is about unfolding life-long development through learning, about living not only as consumer, but enjoying it actively and herewith to be able to draft a different concept of a good life. Put differently: we should no longer accept that some speak many languages, dance, make music, compose, paint and travel, that they accomplish themselves as fully as Goethe did; while others ought to be happy if they can read and write at all. All humans possess a development potential which comes to life out of the slumber of the possible. To activate all human senses should no longer be a luxury only accessible to the rich. Rather, each human being should be able to live according to her or his capabilities. In order to accomplish this, space and time for this is needed. For the fourth dimension of life, that in which humans are political beings, the following demand is made: constructing a society does not mean specialization on the basis of labor. No longer should some do politics while others – and these are by far the majority – must carry the burden of their consequences.

A new time regime

The four dimensions of human life can be woven together in an alternative model: it is an outline for a more comprehensive definition of justice and which is possible to be formulated by women today. It takes as its point of departure the division of labor and the time dedicated to each. In other words, it seeks to alter our societies’ time regime in a fundamental way. One could decide to work on each of the four areas of labor individually: wage, reproductive, political, and individual development. This would result in a division of labor in which certain groups would take up one of the four areas in isolation as their individual hallmark. Some, led by their class consciousness, would take up labor politics which would be effective for those employed.

Others would search for a perspective of the past, a backwards utopia for mothers which nails us lively women to the cross of history, as the philosopher Ernst Bloch put it.

A third group would work towards the development of an elite, which would show, with Olympic talent, what human capabilities can be like. A fourth group would take participatory politics to insignificant areas: they would make television a model institution for the wishes of viewers; they would incorporate the employees into the preparation of Christmas festivities or seek the participation of the population in recycling activities. In all of these cases we would see that each area, taken as the sole focus point of politics can become downright reactionary.

The art of politics lies in the weaving together of all four areas. No one area should be followed without the others, since what is sought is a political constitution of life which, when carried out, would be enjoyed as truly lively, meaningful, engaging, relishing. This is not an immediate goal; it is not capable of being implemented here and now. But it can serve as a compass for our demands, as the basis of our critique, as hope, as a concrete utopia which incorporates all human beings; and in which finally, the development of each and every one may become the precondition for the development of all.

Frigga Haug, FOR A LIFE MORE JUST. THE FOUR-IN-ONE-PERSPECTIVE, 2009, http://www.friggahaug.inkrit.de/documents/4in1_englisch_fin.pdf

Participants Follow-Up


The participants are asked to apply the 4-in-1 perspective to their own lives. As a group they formulate a resolution to shape their own lifes in the sense of the described balance in the 4-in-1-perspective. They agree as a group on one action / deed / … . The success can be compared in a later session of the seminar.

As preparation the participants had to set a small but concrete resolution that brings them closer to where they want to be in the range of 4-in-1. The facilitators give the participants time to talk about their resolution. The participants are divided into groups of four. The facilitators present the work assignment and the discussion question for the small groups.


4-in-1 Perspective by Frigga Haug

  • Poste your resolution as a reply in the forum
  • Try to act accordingly to that resolution until xx.xx.xxxx

Tasks for group work - 10 min.

  • Present the resolutions you chose to each other
  • Why have you chosen this resolution?
  • Were you able to implement the resolution?
  • If not:
    • Why did you not manage to implement it?
    • Did another aspect of labour take the place of the one you wanted to promote with your resolution?
  • If yes:
    • Did you find the implementation difficult or easy?
    • Has it brought you closer to where you want to be in the range of 4-in-1?)