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Individual Paper: The concept of work in anarchist thought and implications for degrowth

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While degrowth imaginary is expected to bring new vocabularies, some words are likely to stay, but would be filled with different content. Work is undoubtedly such a word – often alienating, uninteresting and increasingly insecure even in the more privileged contexts, it will probably be part of a degrowth society too, but needs to be understood and organised differently. There is no shortage of literature that critically discusses the problems and potentials of work, which can inform the understanding of work within degrowth. In this presentation, I will zoom in on one strand of literature that is relevant for this discussion – anarchist thought, which has a lot of commonalities with degrowth (e.g. emphasis on non-hierarchy, autonomy and direct democracy), and discuss how the anarchist take on work can inform the understanding of this concept in degrowth theory and practice. First, the anarchist critique of work and its continuous relevance today will be articulated. Wage labour, division of labour (including specialisation) and dehumanising aspects of work will be the three important avenues for this critique. Second, the possibility of anarchist work ethics will be discussed. In contrast to the popular theses on the abolition of work that are popular in critical academic discussions today, the argument here will stress the continuous need and relevance of work for both anarchist and degrowth imaginaries. Finally, as anarchism can be seen as a theory of organisation, some of the commonly discussed work-related proposals in degrowth will be analysed in light of the earlier discussion. These are work-sharing, job guarantee, basic income and shorter working week. A wide range of classical and modern anarchist writers will be drawn on, such as Murray Bookchin, Emma Goldman, Percival & Paul Goodman, Pyotr Kropotkin and Neala Schleuning.


Day: 2018-08-23
Start time: 14:30
Duration: 00:15
Room: Moriskan (Spegeln)
Track: Critical Social Theories



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