For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Life Within and Against Work: Affective Labor, Feminist Critique, and Post-Fordist Politics"

by Weeks, Kathi (2007)


Feminist theorists have long been interested in immaterial and affective labor, even if the terms themselves are a more recent invention. Contemporary discussions of the concepts of immaterial and affective labor could be enriched by a better understanding of these lineages. Towards that end, this paper focuses on two pioneering feminist projects: the socialist feminist effort to add a critical account of reproductive labor to a Marxist analysis of productive labor and Arlie Hochschild’s addition of the emotional labors of pink collar service workers to the critical analyses of white collar immaterial labor exemplified by the work of C.W. Mills. By focusing on what each of these feminist interventions contributes one can better understand the specificity of labor in the immaterial mode and the difficulties posed by its theorization. The two traditions are instructive for both the achievements and the failures of their analyses. Arguing that both of these critical strategies prove increasingly untenable under the conditions of post-Fordist production, the paper concludes with a brief attempt to imagine the terms of an alternative immanent strategy of critical/political intervention, one that might serve to open another angle of vision on, and frame a different kind of political response to, post-Fordist regimes of work.


Affective Labour, Emotional Labour, Feminism, Feminist Critique, Post-Fordism, Politics, Marxism, Immaterial Labour, White Collar Work, Socialist Feminism, Gendered Labour


Women and Work, Post-Fordism, Capitalism

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