The Meanings of Work: Essays on the Affirmation and Negation of Work

The Meanings of Work: Essays on the Affirmation and Negation of Work

by Ricardo Antunes


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The Meanings of Work: Essays on the Affirmation and Negation of Work by Ricardo Antunes

Billions of men and women depend exclusively on their labor to survive. For them work is not a choice, and yet the restructuring of the global economy has forced increasing numbers into unemployment, and eroded the rights and economic gains of those still on the job. What does this increasing precariousness mean for today's labor markets?

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781608463381
Publisher: Haymarket Books
Publication date: 12/03/2013
Series: Historical Materialism Book Series , #43
Pages: 226
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Ricardo Antunes is Professor of Sociology at University of Campinas (UNICAMP/Brazil). He was Visiting Research Fellow at Sussex University and his books and articles has been published in France, Italy, England, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, among others countries.

Table of Contents

Foreword István Mészáros xiii

Preface to the English Edition xvii

Preface to the Second Edition xxi

Preface to the First Edition xxiii

Introduction 1

Chapter 1 Capital's Social-Metabolic Order and its System of Mediations 5

The system of first-order mediations 5

The emergence of the system of second-order mediations 7

Chapter 2 Dimensions of the Structural Crisis of Capital 15

The crisis of Taylorism and Fordism as the phenomenal expression of the structural crisis 15

Chapter 3 The Responses of Capital to Its Structural Crisis: Productive Restructuring and Its Repercussions in the Labour-Process 21

The limits of Taylorism/Fordism and of the social-democratic compromise 22

The emergence of mass-worker revolts and the crisis of the welfare-state 26

Chapter 4 Toyotism and the New Forms of Capital- Accumulation 32

The fallacy of 'total quality' under the diminishing utility-rate of the use-value of commodities 35

The 'lyophilisation' of organisation and labour in the Toyotist factory: new forms of labour-intensification 37

Chapter 5 From Thatcher's Neoliberalism to Blair's 'Third Way': the Recent British Experience 44

Neoliberalism, the world of work and the crisis of unionism in England 44

Elements of productive restructuring in Britain: ideas and practice 58

British strikes in the 1990s: forms of confrontation with neoliberalism and the casualisation of work 71

New Labour and Tony Blair's 'Third Way' 75

Chapter 6 The Class-that-Lives-from-Labour: the Working Class Today 80

Towards a broader notion of the working class 80

Dimensions of the diversity, heterogeneity and complexity of the working class 83

The sexual division of labour: transversalities between the dimensions of class and gender 84

Wage-earners in the service-sector, the 'third sector' and new forms of domestic labour 89

Transnationalisation of capital and the world of work 93

Chapter 7 The World of Labour and Value-Theory: Forms of Material and Immaterial Labour 96

The growing interaction between labour and scientific knowledge: a critique of the thesis of 'science as primary productive force' 96

The interaction between material and immaterial labour 102

Contemporary forms of estrangement 107

Chapter 8 Excursus on the Centrality of Labour: the Debate between Lukács and Habermas 112

The centrality of labour in Lukács's Ontology of Social Being 112

Labour and teleology 113

Labour as the model of social practice 116

Labour and freedom 121

Habermas's critique of the 'paradigm of labour' 123

The paradigm of communicative action and the sphere of intersubjectivity 124

The uncoupling of system and lifeworld 126

The colonisation of the lifeworld and Habermas's critique of the theory of value 128

A critical sketch of Habermas's critique 133

Authentic and inauthentic subjectivity 135

Chapter 9 Elements towards an Ontology of Everyday Life 142

Chapter 10 Working Time and Free Time: towards a Meaningful Life Inside and Outside of Work 146

Chapter 11 Foundations of a New Social-Metabolic Order 152


Appendices to the Second Edition 159

1 Ten Theses and a Hypothesis on the Present (and Future) of Work 159

2 Labour and Value: Critical Notes 174

Appendices to the First Edition

1 The Crisis of the Labour-Movement and the Centrality of Labour Today 184

2 The New Proletarians at the Turn of the Century 191

3 The Metamorphoses and Centrality of Labour Today 202

4 Social Struggles and Socialist-Societal Design in Contemporary Brazil 215

References 235

Subject Index 241

Author Index 246

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