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The Future of No Work? Critiques, Utopias, and Politics

Wirtschaftsuniversität Wien, Teaching Center TC.0.0318:30 - 20:30

Type Lecture / discussion
SpeakerAndrea Komlosy, Sylvia Kuba, Laurence Davis, David Frayne
Organizer Department Sozioökonomie

In this panel dis­cus­sion in­ter­na­tional and local ex­perts on the role of work in so­citey will share and dis­cuss their views on the fu­ture of (no) work.

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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