The Meanings of Work: Essays on the Affirmation and Negation of Work (Historical Materialism Series)
As the dust settles following the financial meltdown of 2008, more and more media outlets, corporate “leaders,” and economists of all stripes have taken to endlessly discussing the “new normal”- a labor market with lower wages, fewer benefits, less democracy at work, and skyrocketing profits. Yet far too seldom is any consideration given to the question of what these new conditions of precariousness mean for those dependent on their labor to survive. As contingent work has grown there has been a simultaneous reduction in the number of jobs, an erosion of workplace rights, and the evaporation of past gains won through labor struggles, yet these sweeping changes are presented as inevitable and benign consequences of the economic crisis.
The Meanings of Workaims to explore the theoretical and empirical dimensions of the question. Antunes starts by putting forward a wider conception of “work,” and then moves on to analyze the philosophical underpinnings of the move toward Fordism and Taylorism in previous epochs in an effort to understand the drive behind the new conditions facing labor today.