This thesis examines Egyptian state discourse about and directed at labor during the years 1952-1967, focusing on elements that could be said to comprise a "work ethic" promoted by the state to workers. A work ethic is conceptualized as comprising the individual's approach to their job, the way they interact with management/capitalists and the role of labor within the nation. Speeches by Gama! Abdel-Nasser, articles from the daily newspaper Al­Ahram and Al- 'Umaal, a monthly magazine of the Federation of Labor Syndicates are the sources of discourse used. Samples comprising material relevant to the three aforementioned categories were culled from tables of contents of the volumes of speeches, from the index entry "work and workers" for Al-Ahram and chosen using the titles and leads of Al- 'Umaal articles. These items were used assess whether the nationalist content of state discourse on work, with its frequent references to social justice, could be considered empowering to workers. Only when the nation was less often and less forcefully evoked as the object for workers efforts', during 1965-1967, can discourse promoting a specific approach to work be considered potentially empowering for labor. At that time, labor was presented as having incredible capacity for work, as well as possessing unique knowledge to enhance efficiency by virtue of their proximity to production. Those themes contrast with the frequent presentation of labor as pathetic during the 1950s. The links between the nation and a work ethic peak in the mid- to late 1950s when hard work was presented as the means by which individual and national liberation could be achieved. Marxist ideas about ideology and work inform the explanation of translated excerpts from the aforementioned sources. Shifts in the discourse are contextualized in terms of the changes in the organization and perf01mance of the Egyptian economy.


School of Humanities and Social Sciences

Date of Award


Online Submission Date


First Advisor

Nicholas Hopkins

Committee Member 1

Nicholas Hopkins

Committee Member 2

Mark Peterson

Committee Member 3

Asef Bayat

Document Type



183 leaves

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Work ethic

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2



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Call Number

Thesis 2002/10