5.1.1 Introduction: what Unit 5 is about

Unit 5 Contents


Newsagents, supermarkets, Argos, car showrooms, www.amazon.co.uk, HSBC, fashion retailers, Cafédirect, railway ticket offices, John Lewis, www.kelkoo.co.uk, and so on ad infinitum.  We all have experience of private business, if only because we shop.

If we follow current affairs even only cursorily, we are also aware of the wider economy – and, anyway, we are affected by its ups and downs.  When inflation is high, we notice prices rising.  When the economy is growing, many people find it fairly easy to get a job.  When there is a recession, such as following the 2008 financial crisis, we might face redundancy.

This unit is about business and the economy.  We can approach this subject by way of looking again at a distinction I brought in near the start of Unit 4.  This was from Pope John Paul II’s encyclical Laborem Exercens, which you read for that unit.  It is the distinction between the ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ senses of work.



Can you recall what is meant by the distinction between the ‘subjective’ and ‘objective’ senses of work?  Without going back to look at the Introduction of Unit 4, write down on a sheet of paper what you can remember about those two senses of ‘work’.




Unit 4 was about work in the subjective sense.  In other words, it focused on workers.

As you know from that unit, the most important point that CST makes on this topic is that workers are human persons.  CST’s central insistence is that, because workers are persons, work must be organized in a way that recognizes this.  Work must not treat workers as things, as mere instruments – because this dehumanizes them.  Rather, it must enable workers to be human, to develop as persons.

What about ‘work in the objective sense’?  Isn’t this at least as important as work in the subjective sense – whether people provide goods and services that actually benefit others, rather than harm them?  Don’t we need to focus on this?  We certainly do – but in CST this mainly comes up under different headings.

In this unit, we shall be focusing on work in the objective sense, as this takes place in the private sector.  So we shall look at the aims that private businesses should have and therefore at what they should supply to markets.

The next unit, Unit 6 on family life in society, is to do with the ‘objective’ work of taking care of households, bringing up children, and living as families in the wider community.

As for the public and ‘third’ sectors, the ‘objective’ work done by these is studied in the twin CST module, in all of units 4 to 7.  These look at the role of government, ways of addressing poverty, criminal justice policy, and peace and war.

In this unit we shall follow the pastoral spiral again, so we begin on the next screen with experience.  Here are the learning outcomes.

Learning outcomes for Unit 5

By the end of this unit, you will be able

  • to outline, with reference to the historical background of modern CST studied in Unit 2, the main contrasting positions in debate about economic life in the period since World War Two
  • to explain the principle of the ‘universal destination of material goods’ and its significance for business activities
  • to summarize CST’s vision of a ‘solidary’ or ‘civil’ market economy
  • to engage in critical discussion of CST on economic life, including about how to do business in light of it.


End of 5.1.1

Go to 5.1.2 Your experience of private business

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