For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"Automation, Labour Justice, and Equality"

by Celentano, Denise (2019)


This article contributes to the debate on automation and justice by discussing two under-represented concerns: labour justice and equality. Since automation involves both winners and losers, and given that there is no ‘end of work’ on the horizon, it is argued that most normative views on the subject – i.e. the ‘allocative’ view of basic income, and the ‘desirability’ views of post-work and workist ethics – do not provide many resources with which to address unjustly unequal divisions of labour involved in technological innovation. This article problematises these common responses reframing the problem from the perspective of labour justice. While the allocative view assumes that labour justice follows ‘spontaneously’ from income redistribution, the desirability views are chiefly interested in either defining or contesting the meanings of work for individuals, overlooking the interdependent nature of work and concerns of equality other than autonomy. Two conceptions of labour justice are thus applied to the problem: Paul Gomberg’s contributive justice, and Iris Young’s democratic division of labour. Instead of deciding between them, the normative core of ‘contributive parity’ is suggested as a critical standard for assessing unequal labour structures, and for envisaging a future in which technology can be an ally in making social cooperation fair.

Key Passage



Labour Justice, Basic Income, Distributive Justice, Division Of Labour, Post-Work, Ethics, Outsourcing, Equality, Meaningful Work


On Young on Work, Digital Labour, Capitalism, Digital Labour, Automation

Links to Reference



How to contribute.