The Future of No Work? Critiques, Utopias, and Politics
Will machines take over our work, creating unemployment and misery - as present debates on full-scale digitisation suggest? How likely is this scenario, given that past technological advances have not challenged the centrality of work in our lives? Would unemployment even be a problem if social inclusion did not primarily rely on labour market integration? Which ecological concerns are regularly neglected in debates on a workless future, and is increasing the participation of women in the labour market a timely feminist demand?
Such questions arise if we turn to current radical political thinking. ‘Postwork’, for example, scrutinizes our work-centred societies and conceptualises a world beyond waged work and growth. Looking into the past, utopias of work or liberation from work have a long history. What can they tell us about work in contemporary societies? What is defined as work in the first place, currently and historically? And which political demands follow from these perspectives for achieving an emancipatory, sustainable society?
Although it seems clear that the role of work in social-ecological transformation is crucial, problem definitions and ways forward are contested. The continuum ranges from a future of work as a projection of the past - consisting of more jobs, more automation, higher wages, busyness as usual and environmental degradation - to utopian visions of societies where work plays a fundamentally different role in people’s lives. These and many more perspectives will be discussed by the following speakers:
Andrea Komlosy, professor at the Institute for Economic and Social History at University of Vienna, recently published “Work: The Last 1000 Years” (London/New York 2018).
Sylvia Kuba, Austrian Chamber of Labour and member of the Austrian Council for Robotics. Editor of “Überall ist Zukunft. Die Gesellschaft im digitalen Zeitalter gestalten” (Vienna 2018).
Laurence Davis, University College Cork, Ireland, political scientist with a particular expertise in radical political thought. Co-editor of “Anarchism and Utopianism” (Manchester 2014).
David Frayne, Cardiff University, UK, sociologist and author of “The Refusal of Work: The Theory and Practice of Resistance to Work” (London 2015).
Moderation: Stefanie Gerold, PhD candidate at the Institute for Ecological Economics, WU Wien.
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