For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"On revoking the subject of work: Psychoanalytic interpretations of the American television series The Office"

by Crepaldi, Gianluca (2020)


The present paper seeks to use the conceptual framework of psychoanalysis to reconstruct the unconscious fantasies and latent meanings of a very popular and massively successful comedy series. The Office (2005?2013) is an American adaptation of a much shorter British production with the same title, which was originally broadcast in the early 2000s. The pivotal unconscious idea behind the script is thoroughly anarchistic in nature, because it implies the radical revocation of the working subject by means of humour. To argue this thesis, an examination of the setting, characters and narratives of the show is carried out against a psychoanalytic background. A whole series about a workplace is nothing new, but this is a staging of absurd situations where most of the time no work is done at all. The characters undergo a constant process of de-identification with work, which subsequently leads us towards a discussion of the psychodynamic aspects of postmodern work in general. Interdisciplinary references to literature, philosophy and critical theory complement and expand the psychoanalytic perspective on the TV series as a contemporary cultural objectivation.

Key Passage



Identification, Psychoanalysis, Cultural Objectivation, Humour, Television, The Office


Psychoanalysis, Psychological Centrality of Work

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