For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

References for Theme: Concepts of Work

  • Applebaum, Herbert
  • Budd, John W
  • Chamberlain, James
    • Undoing Work (2018)
      (p.14) I define work very broadly as the manipulation of matter, symbols, and affect through the application of physical, intellectual, or emotional energy. I do not expect that a life wihout work is either possible or desirable, but I believe we can adjust the way we organise and experience work and how it relates to community.
  • Chamoux, Marie-Noëlle
  • Cholbi, Michael
    • "The Duty to Work" (2018)
      (p.2) work is a surprisingly difficult matter to define. Indeed, it is unlikely that there is a single ahistorical understanding of the nature of work, nor is there only one way a duty to work might be grounded. In the Christian tradition, for example, a duty to work has sometimes been rooted in the imperative that our earthly existence should glorify and serve God, or perfect the created world by making it fit for human needs. However, the dialectical aims of our discussion are not historical. Our concern is instead to ascertain whether individuals, in the socioeconomic conditions that prevail in...
  • Clot, Yves
  • Corno, Lyn; Xu, Jianzhong
  • Cukier, Alexis
  • Darwin, Charles
    • Origin of the Species (2009)
      (p.203) I will not here enter on minute details on this subject, but will merely give an outline of the conclusions at which I have arrived. He must be a dull man who can examine the exquisite structure of a comb, so beautifully adapted to its end, without enthusiastic admiration. We hear from mathematicians that bees have practically solved a recondite problem, and have made their cells of the proper shape to hold the greatest possible amount of honey, with the least possible consumption of precious wax in their construction. It has been remarked that a skilful workman with fitting tools...
  • Deranty, Jean-Philippe
  • Descola, Philippe
    • Beyond Nature and Culture (2013)
      (p.322) Marx’s position is indicative of the more general tendency of modern thought to regard production as the element that determines the material conditions of social life and as the principal way for humans to transform nature and, by doing so, transform themselves. Whether or not one is a Marxist, it is now commonly thought that the history of humanity is primarily founded on the dynamism introduced by a succession of ways of producing use value and exchange value of the materials that the environment provides. But it is fair to question whether this preeminence ascribed to the process of productive objectivization applies generally to all societies. To be...
    • Beyond Nature and Culture (2013)
      (p.323) The idea of production as the imposition of form upon inert matter is simply an attenuated expression of the schema of action that rests upon two interdependent premises: the preponderance of an individualized intentional agent as the cause of the coming- to- be of beings and things, and the radical differencebetween the ontological status of the creator and that of whatever he produces. According to the paradigm of creation- production, the subject is autonomous and his intervention in the world reflects his personal characteristics: whether he is a god, a demiurge, or a simple mortal, he produces his oeuvre according to a preestablished plan and with a defi...
    • Beyond Nature and Culture (2013)
      (p.325) As a way of conceiving action on the world and a specific relationship in which a subject generates an object, production thus does not have a universal applicability. It presupposes the existence of a clearly individualized agent who projects his interiority on to indeterminate matter in order to give form to it and thus bring into existence an entity for which he alone is responsible and that he can then appropriate for his own use or exchange for other realities of the same type. Now, to return to our two examples: the production model does not correspond either to the concept of a continuous autopoietic process as...
  • Diderot, D'alembert
    • Encyclopédie (1766)
      (p.567) c'est l'occupation journalière à laquelle l'homme est condamné par son besoin, et à laquelle il doit en même temps sa santé, sa subsistance, sa sérénité, son bon sens et sa vertu peut-être.
  • Ege, Ragip
  • England, George W; Harpaz, Itzhak
  • Firth, Raymond
  • Frayne, David
    • The Refusal of Work (2015)
      (p.20) In this book I will follow André Gorz’s observation that the prevailing cultural understandingof ‘work’ in modern capitalist societies is that it is an activity carried out for a wage. Colloquially, it seems that the label ‘work’ is most often used to distinguish paid from unpaid activities, andrefers to the operations performed in ‘jobs’ – things that we ‘go to’ and ‘come home from’. Illustrating this definition, Gorz suggested that a market gardener can be said to work, whilst a miner growing leeks in his back garden is carrying out a freely chosen activity (Gorz, 1982: 1). Elsewhere, Gorz has...
  • Freeman, Caroline
  • Freshwater, Dawn; Cahill, Jane; Esterhuizen, Philip; Muncey, Tessa; Smith, Helen
  • Freyssenet, Michel
  • Gilman, Charlotte Perkins
    • Women and Economics (1900)
      (p.129) Maternal energy is the force through which have come into the world both love and industry. It is through the tireless activity of this desire, the mother’s wish to serve the young, that she began the first of the arts and crafts whereby we live. While the male savage was still a mere hunter and fighter, expressing masculine energy, the katabolic force, along its essential line, expanding, scattering, the female savage worked out in equally natural ways the conserving force of female energy. She gathered together and saved nutrition for the child, as the germ-cell gathers and saves nutrition in...
  • Godelier, Maurice
  • Gorz, André
    • Paths to Paradise (1982)
      (p.1) Work has not always existed in the way in which it is currently understood. It came into being at the same time as capitalists and proletarians. It means an activity carried out: for someone else; in return for a wage; according to forms and time schedules laid down by the person paying the wage; and for a purpose not chosen by the worker. A market gardener 'works'; a miner growing leeks in his back garden carries out a freely chosen activity. (p.1)
  • Govier, Trudy
    • "The right to eat and the duty to work" (1975)
      (p.135) It is surprisingly difficult to give an adequate definition of the term ’work’ . In the context of discussions of welfare, work seems to’be anything you do which results in your being paid so that the government does not have to support you. But as any housewife will testify not all work is paid work. One Oxford dictionary definition goes as follows: To work is to do something involving effort of body or mind/to exert oneself for a definite purpose, especially in order to produce something or to effect a useful result, or to gain one’s livelihood. This definition is so general that it is hard to...
  • Henwood, Doug
  • Hélène, D’almeida-Topor; Monique, Lakroum; Spittler, Gerd
  • Ingold, Tim
  • Jaeggi, Rahel
    • A Wide Concept of Economy: Economy as a Social Prac tice and the Critique of Capitalism (2017)
      (p.170) Another social practice crucial for fulfi lling the economic needs of society is labor or work. Labor is not simply a preinterpretively given, “raw” activity but rather is a practice that exists within a social and normative structure of recognition. It is not the activity, as such, that constitutes “work” but the social recognition of the activity as work and the role that the respective activity has in the social process of cooperation. Cooking or playing piano can be seen as work, or not, depending on whether it is practiced by the chef or the homemaker, by the pianist or the layperson. Work confronts us not only...
    • "Pathologies of Work" (2017)
  • Kambartel, Friedrich
  • Komlosy, Andrea
  • Kovacs, George
  • Larson, Bruce
  • Lewis, Mary Daly, Jane; Daly, Mary; Lewis, Jane
  • Lis, Catharina
  • Mies, Maria
    • Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale (1986)
      (p.235) A feminist concept of labour has to be oriented towards the production of life as the goal of work andnot the production of things and of wealth, of which the production of life is then a secondary derivative. The production of immediate life in all its aspects must be the core concept for the development of a feminist concept of work.
    • Patriarchy and Accumulation on a World Scale (1986)
      (p.47) It is thus necessary, with regard to the concept of productivity of labour, to reject its narrow definitionand to show that labour can only be productive in the sense of producing surplus value as long as it can tap,extract, exploit, and appropriate that labour which is spent in the production of life, or in subsistence productionwhich is non-wage labour mainly done by women. As this production of life is the perennial preconditionof all other historical forms of productive labour, including that under conditions of capital accumulation,it has to be defined as work and not as unconscious 'natural' activity. Human beings do not only live: they produce their...
  • Negri, Antonio
  • Nippert-Eng, Christena
  • Oliveira, Agamenon R E
  • Povinelli, Elizabeth A
  • Rancière, Jacques
    • Modern Times (2017)
      An occupation is not simply the practice of an activity, it is also a way of being in time and space. In this sense, the workday is the everyday necessity that constantly reproduces the division of temporalities which is a division of forms of life. But it is also the concrete flowing of hours and minutes - one after the other – wherein a possible gap can be played out  in relation to that normal reproduction: a possible work of the body and the mind regains, against the constraint of space, the deviation of a gaze that leads thought elsewhere,...
  • Schutz, Alfred
    • The Structures of the Life-World (1989)
      (p.13) Among the many different kinds of operation, one especially merits closer examination. All operation, as controlled corporeal conduct, in some way engages in the world. But not every operation changes the surrounding world in a way that is significant for the practical objectives of everyday life. On this point we should not be misled by the metaphysical question—which is not pertinent for everyday practice—whether every action, indeed every event, be it “inner” or “outer,” does not change reality. If after merely accidental “thinking aloud” I happen to frame my train of thought intentionally in words, I have gone over from...
  • Smith, Nicholas H
  • Thomas, Carol
  • Tilly, Charles; Tilly, Chris
    • Work Under Capitalism (1998)
      (p.22) Work includes any human effort adding use value to goods and services. However much their performers may enjoy or loathe the effort, conversation, song, decoration, pornography, table-setting, gardening, housecleaning, and repair of broken toys, all involve work to the extent that they increase satisfactionstheir consumers gain from them. Prior to the twentieth century, a vast majority of the world’s workers performed the bulk of their work in other settings than salaried jobs as we know them today. Even today, over the world asa whole, most work takes place outside of regular jobs. Only a prejudice bred by Western capitalism and its industrial labor markets fixes on...
  • Van Parijs, Philippe
    • Real Freedom for All (1995)
      (p.138) For an activity to qualify as work, it must be one that is geared to the production (whether pleasurable or not) of a benefit that is external to the performance of the activity itself—and is, therefore, also capable of being enjoyed by others. This benefit need not be a material object. It can consist of the songs one sings no less than in the potatoes one grows. And it can also consist of both consumption and production goods. But pure play cannot be work: one can only work when playing football if one does so, or trains for doing so,...
    • Real Freedom for All (1995)
      (p.98) One old objection to distribution in proportion to work is that it conflicts with efficiency even in the weak sense of Pareto-optimality, by providing excessive incentives to work. …Far more serious are the tricky conceptual difficulties unavoidably raised by any approach that gives a key role to the notions of work and leisure. What shall we count as work? (Cleaning one's clients' shoes, cleaning one's children's shoes, cleaning one's own shoes, cleaning one's doll's shoes?) How should hours of work be made comparable? (Should one hour of effort-intensive work be equivalent to one hour of relaxed work, one hour of...
  • Voß, G Günter
  • Weeks, Kathi
    • The Problem with Work (2011)
      (p.14) In this book, the label "work" will refer to productive cooperation organized around, but not necessarily confined to, the privileged model of waged labor. What counts as work, which forms of productive activity will be included and how each will be valued, are a matter of historical dispute. Certainly the questions of whether or not various forms of productive activity - including some unwaged forms - will be recognized as workand at what rate they will be compensated have long been at the forefront of class, race, and gender struggles in and beyond the United States.
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