“We have lost the pleasure of being together. Thirty years of precariousness and competition have destroyed social solidarity. Media virtualization has destroyed empathy among bodies, the pleasure of touching each other, and the pleasure of living in urban spaces. We have lost the pleasure of love, because too much time is devoted to work and virtual exchange.” (Berardi and Lovnik)
Since the 1970s, the deregulation of traditional forms of labour and the emergence of new forms of ‘immaterial’ labour have transformed the conditions under which we work. This is often spoken of in terms of freedom – freedom to move between jobs, freedom to move country, freedom to work from home, freedom to be creative. But this freedom only seems to describe our unequal capacities to negotiate the risks and opportunities of an unforgiving labour market.
For many of us the experience of work is now a succession of unfulfilling part-time or short-term jobs that do not provide any security into the future. At the same time we are told that our failure to find decent work must be our own fault. We are told to work more on ourselves, to improve our CV, acquire more qualifications and skills, identify better contacts, apply for more jobs.
We find ourselves working harder than ever in the hope that one day we’ll be rewarded or, more likely, out of fear that we will be left behind. This cycle becomes exhausting and depressing as we are left with less time to do the things we want and care about. This talk will discuss these common experiences of ‘precariousness’ in relation to contemporary capitalism.
For more details on the four part series see our blog
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