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

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

Art Vortrag/Diskussion
Vortragende/rAndrea Komlosy, Sylvia Kuba, Laurence Davis, David Frayne
Veranstalter Department Sozioökonomie
Kontakt Stefanie.Gerold@wu.ac.at

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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