Affective Labor

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  • 1.Affective labour: Past and present Dr Melissa Gregg, University of Sydney, Australia

2. Prehistory Informal labour, reproductive labour, care work. Domestic/ unregulated spheres Relevant feminist scholarship: - Philosophy: Home as historical basis for womens oppression (eg, Irigaray, Beauvoir, Young) - The Sociology of Housework Oakley (1973) - Marxist/ Materialist Feminism: Barrett (1980), Delphy (1984), Harstock (1983) - Wages for housework campaigns (ongoing) 3. Other kinds of unfree labour - Undocumented migrants - Conscription - Containment - Students - Critically ill - Work-fare regimes(Cooper & Waldby 2009) 4. Leopoldina Fortunati, 2007 immaterial labour includes cleaning the house, cooking, shopping, washing and ironing clothes and the labour required to produce individuals: sex, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and carethe immaterial sphere also includes affect, care, love, education, socialization, communication, information, entertainment, organization, planning, coordination, logistics (144) 5. Fortunati, contd the adoption and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) in the home remove[s] the human body from education, communication, information, entertainment and other immaterial aspects of domestic labor (147) womens work should not be reduced to the body (affect) but nor should technology replace the human dimensions of care work 6. Ehrenreich & Hochschild 7. Cooper & Waldby, 2009 Clinical labour cell harvesting, fertility outsourcing, commercial surrogacy, egg vending, etcCoerced? Voluntary? Donated? Giftexchange?Compensation or wages? 8. Clinical labour - highlights the limitations of Fordist models as social reproduction enters the formal market on a global scale - emphasises the racial and class specificity of affective/ immaterial labour - biological reproduction has been outsourced (Cooper & Waldby 2009) 9. Kathi Weeks, 2007 Regardless of whether it was ever adequate, especially under the conditions of post-Fordist production, the very same practices deemed unproductive in one site [now] directly produce value in another and thus this simple distinction between what is inside or outside the circuits of capitalist valorization becomes increasingly untenable (238) 10. The working from home study2007-200927 workers, various ages/positions,public and private sector, all in information, communication and education industriesFindings to be published in Works Intimacy,Polity Press (forthcoming 2010) 11. Key findings Workers who used online technology to work outside theoffice reported a significant impact on home life and aninability to switch off from workStress and anxiety was particularly apparent in mid-level employees and junior workers. Online technology exacerbated feelings of responsibility for timely communication within the organisation leading to chronic email monitoring outside the office and difficulties with relaxation and sleepMid-level employees were dealing with large amounts of email generated within their own organisation by superiors with more financial and administrative support 12. Key findings Part-time workers reported regular work contact during days off. This was especially prominent in women looking after children at home.Women felt lucky to work part-time even though theywere regularly doing unrecognised work. Theheightened pace of online communication had not beenfactored in to the roles of part-time office workers.Most workers did not consider checking work email at home to be work. 13. I start at about half past six in the morning and do an hour or so before I leave to go to work and thats mainly just clearing emails and things like that so I can start the day ready to do work. 14. 100 doesnt sound like a lot. 15. Otherwise it would just get on top of me. 16. You dont want to hold up the work. 17. It almost gives me peace of mind that I dont have something really big waiting for me. 18. I will sleep better if I spend an hour or an hour and a half at night just getting on top of that. 19. I think that the anxiety I have with emails is absolutely ridiculous. I just think its stupid; I should get over it. I dont think its something thats placed upon me; I think its truly a personal manifestation. 20. Affective labour in the digital era anticipatory: strategies of preparation and recovery outside formal work hours to cope with ceaseless communication demandsprospective: networking and skills upgrades outside formal work hours to maintain employability through churn (employer, job role, or technology fashion) 21. Technological change as state of exceptionWhen I had the last interview I think Id probably just joined Facebook And now Facebook is so old hat, and Twitters the latest thing. Youve got to be on Twitter. Thats actually part of my job I do the tweets for [the corporation]. So whatever comes along next, youve got to do it.(Online journalist/ news producer) 22. Technological change as state of exception Its not really at the stage where we have tohave a separate Twitter shift or anything likethat. But if we want to do it properly if it turnsout to be something thats going to stickaround and isnt just a fad, then we have tolook at incorporating it formally into some kindof work flow system. I was working the budget night and I was EPthat night, and also Tweeting. I think next yearif its still around well probably have someonejust doing Twitter. I was trying to doeverything. 23. In addition to established white collar affectsperhaps because he does not know wherehe is going, he is in a frantic hurry; perhapsbecause he does not know what frightenshim, he is paralysed with fear.C W Mills, White Collar (1973: xvi). See also: Richard Sennett, The Corrosion of Character (on anxiety) Alan Liu, The Laws of Cool (on cubicle politics) 24. And the impact of recession 25. Nothing is certain in this environment. I think anyone in the corporate environment at the moment would be mad to think that their job was secure, moving forward Never, ever assume that youve got a job for life or a job for 12 months. 26. A labour politics to fit a stateof exception