Platform Cooperativism vs. the Sharing Economy

The backlash against unethical labor practices in the “collaborative sharing economy” has been overplayed. Recently, The Washington Post, New York Times and others started to rail against online labor brokerages like Taskrabbit, Handy, and Uber because of an utter lack of concern for their workers. At the recent Digital Labor conference, my colleague McKenzie Wark proposed that the modes of production that we appear to be entering are not quite capitalism as classically described. “This is not capitalism,” he said, “this is something worse.”[1] …

CapitalismEssaysIn Depth

Think Outside the Boss

Cooperate alternatives to the sharing economy

Digital labor touches all of us, whether you are browsing Tinder profiles in your spare time, searching for “Jersey Shore” on Google, or ordering an Uber taxi.

In this afternoon’s talk, I will highlight what is and what could be successful about 21st century work and what are some tendencies that are worrisome. Once we gain an understanding of that, we can examine how to work around the concerning dispositions and promote positive trends. In the first five minutes, I will walk you through a few cases that I find troublesome. …

LettersSex & Gender

Identity Politics on Steroids or What do Women Want?

Last week Johanna Oksala asked is capitalism good for women? And if it is not, are there reforms that can make capitalism good for women? Rather than rehearse her complex and fascinating answers to these questions, let me rather interrogate the assumptions that underlie them. One, of course, is that we know what capitalism is, but I won’t go into that just yet. Another is that we can consider women as a social and historical totality — a “gender” — that is oppressed as a whole, and that can seek remediation as a whole. Of course, there are differences among women — rich and poor, gay and straight, young and old and so forth. Nonetheless, women as a whole are oppressed and can seek remedies that apply to all women.

CapitalismEssaysSex & Gender

Towards a Maternal Capitalism?

It has become commonplace to speak about the “fatherless society.” This is not because fathers no longer exist (there are indeed still a lot of people around who claim to be so), but because they exhibit behaviours that were usually associated with the other side of the parental coin: in today’s advanced capitalist societies, fathers change diapers, feed their newborns, and they even have to invent ever new forms of entertainment to catch up with the exuberance of the infantile imagination. In sum, fathers try to provide the physical and emotional care that was once typically associated with women and nannies. Is it possible to look at this transformation in the context of a broader change within capitalism itself? …

CapitalismEssaysTheory & Practice

The Capitalism of Affects

In her groundbreaking book about emotional labor, The Managed Heart, Arlie Russell Hochshild suggests that emotions are not simply stored in us waiting to be expressed: they are also produced and managed. The notion and practice of affects management, both privately and socially, are not specific to capitalism. Hellenistic philosophers made up a new word to convey this very idea: metriopatheia, from pathos, affect, and metrios, a word that conveys both the notion of measure and that of moderation. As Foucault correctly noted, the management or negotiation of pathē in Greek and Roman philosophers, and in particular in the Stoics, is constitutive part of a process of subject formation, utilizing what Foucault calls techniques of the self, through which a specific and historically determined subject constitutes himself as capable of self-determination and self-mastery through a process that was social and individual at the same time. …