For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Putting Critical Theory to Work: Labor, Subjectivity and the Debts of the Frankfurt School"

by King, Bradley (2010)


This article considers 1) the relevance of subjectivity and the problem of its absence in regard to recent debates around labor-process theory; and 2) the importance of maintaining a phenomenological conception of labor to the broader political project of critical theory and labor-process theory. By drawing on some of the classic texts of critical theory and some of the more recent texts in labor-process theory, I argue that understanding labor as both an instrumental and communicative practice works to undermine Habermasian conceptions of communication and praxis. What is at stake here is a critical conception of praxis that is able to recover labor as a fundamental problem in critical sociology. It is my contention that this mediation between critical phenomenology and labor-process theory can be productive not only in reinvigorating the political dimension of labor-process theory but also critical theory itself.


Critical Theory, Heidegger, Habermas, Labor-Process Theory, Marcuse, Phenomenology, Technology


On Heidegger, On Habermas

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