Re-organizing labour: Perspectives on recent developments

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 Workshop 1: Re-conceptualizing labour: Autonomist developments 

The Marxist conceptualization of labour received an innovative interpretation in the works of the autonomist Marxists. Although founding itself within the Marxist tradition, the autonomists were also inspired by post-structuralist philosophers, in particular by the works of Foucault and Deleuze and Guattari. This variance of Marxism is particularly interesting for a course focusing on labour, as it puts labour and working-class creativity in the centre of its intellectual interest and political practice. Within this variance, new conceptualizations of labour have been developed, such as immaterial and affective labour, and invisible types of work such as domestic and care labour (that will be discussed in depth in the 3rd meeting of the course) have been rendered visible through their theorization and demand for recognition. This workshop will combine an introduction to central approaches and concepts in the works of autonomist scholars, along with attention to their post-structuralist inspirational sources.

Instructor: Prof. Dr. Rudi Laermans, Department of Sociology, University of Leuven (KUL) 


Workshop 2: Contemporary studies of labour: theoretical and methodological choices (2 hours)

‘Studying labour’ is a considerable challenge; it entails a variety of approaches, methods, and also tensions. On the one hand, it entails describing and analysing working conditions and experiences, as they manifest in different realms and sites of production. On the other hand, it also entails embedding those working conditions and experiences in the context of the wider social relations and power dynamics which define them. This workshop engages with different perspectives and methods to study labour and labourers, and assesses the extent to which different research methods allow different working classes ‘to speak’. In doing so, it also engages with crucial ethical questions on how to conduct research across different workplaces, often in a context of great power imbalances between ‘the researcher’ and ‘the researched’; and between labourers and those who claim to speak for them.

Dr. Alessandra Mezzadri, Department of Development Studies, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London 

This workshop is part of the doctoral training "Conceptualizations and meanings of labour: classical and contemporary perspectives". For more information pleas follow the registration link.