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robertogreco : miyatokumitsu   6

The United States of Work | New Republic
"how the discipline of work has itself become a form of tyranny, documenting the expansive power that firms now wield over their employees in everything from how they dress to what they tweet"



"both books make a powerful claim: that our lives today are ruled, above all, by work. We can try to convince ourselves that we are free, but as long as we must submit to the increasing authority of our employers and the labor market, we are not. We therefore fancy that we want to work, that work grounds our character, that markets encompass the possible. We are unable to imagine what a full life could be, much less to live one. Even more radically, both books highlight the dramatic and alarming changes that work has undergone over the past century—insisting that, in often unseen ways, the changing nature of work threatens the fundamental ideals of democracy: equality and freedom.

Anderson’s most provocative argument is that large companies, the institutions that employ most workers, amount to a de facto form of government, exerting massive and intrusive power in our daily lives. Unlike the state, these private governments are able to wield power with little oversight, because the executives and boards of directors that rule them are accountable to no one but themselves."



"they use the language of individual liberty to claim that corporations require freedom to treat workers as they like."



"These conditions render long-term employment more palatable than a precarious existence of freelance gigs, which further gives companies license to oppress their employees."



"Indeed, it is only after dismissal for such reasons that many workers learn of the sweeping breadth of at-will employment, the contractual norm that allows American employers to fire workers without warning and without cause, except for reasons explicitly deemed illegal."



"
A weak job market, paired with the increasing precarity of work, means that more and more workers are forced to make their living by stringing together freelance assignments or winning fixed-term contracts, subjecting those workers to even more rules and restrictions. On top of their actual jobs, contractors and temp workers must do the additional work of appearing affable and employable not just on the job, but during their ongoing efforts to secure their next gig. Constantly pitching, writing up applications, and personal branding on social media requires a level of self-censorship, lest a controversial tweet or compromising Facebook photo sink their job prospects."



"from Marx and Hegel to Freud and Lincoln, whose 1859 speech he also quotes. Livingston centers on these thinkers because they all found the connection between work and virtue troubling. Hegel believed that work causes individuals to defer their desires, nurturing a “slave morality.” Marx proposed that “real freedom came after work.” And Freud understood the Protestant work ethic as “the symptom of repression, perhaps even regression.”"



"In today’s economy, the demand for such labor is rising rapidly: “Nine of the twelve fastest-growing fields,” The New York Times reported earlier this year, “are different ways of saying ‘nurse.’” These jobs also happen to be low-paying, emotionally and physically grueling, dirty, hazardous, and shouldered largely by women and immigrants. Regardless of whether employment is virtuous or not, our immediate goal should perhaps be to distribute the burdens of caregiving, since such work is essential to the functioning of society and benefits us all.

A truly work-free world is one that would entail a revolution from our present social organizations. We could no longer conceive of welfare as a last resort—as the “safety net” metaphor implies—but would be forced to treat it as an unremarkable and universal fact of life. This alone would require us to support a massive redistribution of wealth, and to reclaim our political institutions from the big-money interests that are allergic to such changes."



"If we do not have a deliberate politics rooted in universal social justice, then full employment, a basic income, and automation will not liberate us from the degradations of work.

Both Livingston and Anderson reveal how much of our own power we’ve already ceded in making waged work the conduit for our ideals of liberty and morality. The scale and coordination of the institutions we’re up against in the fight for our emancipation is, as Anderson demonstrates, staggering."
work  politics  2017  miyatokumitsu  government  governance  labor  corporatism  liberty  freedom  la  precarity  economics  karlmarx  hegel  abrahamlincoln  digmundfreud  care  caregiving  emotionallabor  caretaking  maintenance  elizabethanderson  jameslivingston 
april 2017 by robertogreco
Forced to Love the Grind | Jacobin
"During the Cold War, defense companies like Lockheed in the Santa Clara Valley drew scores of ambitious scientists; these workers seemed to share certain personality traits, including social awkwardness, emotional detachment, and, namely, a single-mindedness about their work to the point at which “they devoted every waking hour to it, usually to the exclusion of nonwork relationships, exercise, sleep, food, and even personal care.” In the late ’50s, Lockheed’s own company psychologists created a label for this particular bundle of traits: “the sci-tech personality.”

Managers had found a type of worker who gladly put aside, seemingly for the long term, nonwork desires and obligations, and even the most basic physical needs of hygiene and sleep. These workers were branded not as worrisome but as “passionate,” with all the positive connotations of that word. And by the 1980s, a valley full of “passionate” workers was fertile ground for a burgeoning tech industry. Passionate overworkers like Steve Jobs became icons, not just to tech workers but also to the culture at large.

With passion as a new workplace requirement, it needed to be measured in some way, so that the passion of individual workers could be compared and used to mete out rewards and punishments. Enter the managers, who resorted to the laziest, most easily graphable, least imaginative way possible to gauge this intangible quality: hours spent in the office.

This intractable policy remains largely in place today. “We just don’t know any other way to measure [workers], except by their hours,” an office manager sighed to a team of workplace consultants in 2014. This exasperation was aired a year after the consultants did a study of the same workplace, which revealed that employees were more productive when encouraged to take intermittent breaks and were (gasp) “permitted to leave as soon as they had accomplished a designated amount of work.”

Passion as measured by hours has put the workweek on a course of runaway inflation, to the point at which people are actually shortening their lives and endangering others — sometimes in sudden, tragic form — in pursuit of an ever-elusive ideal of capitalistic individualism."



"The falsity of passion-as-hours logic is that, quite simply, it produces shoddy work, which is not what someone who is ostensibly passionate about his or her work would allow. Emphasizing passion as a value in employees diminishes other potential — seemingly obvious — attitudes toward work that have more to bear on the quality of the work itself, things like competence and good faith.

Passion, overwork, and 24/7 temporality are linked together by much more than the need for simple managerial metrics. Carl Cederström and Peter Fleming argue that work today is of such a nature that it exploits workers not only during their time in the workplace, but also in their very act of living.

Employers seek to capture our “human qualities like social intelligence, reciprocity, communication, and shared initiative.” They add, “The traditional point of production — say the factory assembly line — is scattered to every corner of our lives since it is now our very sociality that creates value for business.”

This logic applies to nearly every level of the workforce, from the public face an executive provides for his corporation to barista small talk. When personal authenticity is demanded every moment at work, “our authenticity is no longer a retreat from the mandatory fakeness of the office, but the very medium through which work squeezes the life out of us.” If everyone is always working anyway and the distinctions between our work and nonwork selves are muddled, staying in the office for an extra hour or three doesn’t seem a terribly significant decision.

And when a worker has internalized a DWYL ethic, it hardly seems like a decision at all."
2015  miyatokumitsu  passion  labor  employment  siliconvalley  work  fatigue  wellbeing  exploitation  productivity  capitalism  sararobinson 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Do the Robot – The New Inquiry
"Miya Tokumitsu had a good critique of the Do What You Love ideology in Jacobin, in which she argues that “do what you love” means turn your passion into human capital — the real subsumption of identity in another guise. She writes,
According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation, but an act of self-love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace.

Having a “real” passion for your job is the extension of exhibiting “genuine” feeling in the workplace, but instead of serving a customer, it serves a boss or client. Again the metric that establishes the reality of feeling is ex post profit. If no one wants your passionate work, it’s not really passionate and you are self-deluded.

Tokumitsu argues that genuinely lovable work is a privilege that comes at the expense of lots of unlovable work being done by others:
Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished).

As a result, Tokumitsu argues, unlovable work becomes “dangerously invisible” to those whom it permits to do what they love. And in the meantime, those who love what they do work harder for less or no pay.

But the logic that sees competitive advantage in the “human touch” means that all work must be lovable and be performed as such for customers (and the managers who are supposed to be their proxy). Unlovable work isn’t made invisible but is made to seem visibly, irrepressibly loved. After all, what keeps a crappy job from being automated, from this perspective, is the joy in it that a worker can manifest and woo customers with. What prevents a job from being automated is not necessarily its complexity, as Peter Frase explains in this post (and elsewhere):
From the perspective of the boss, replacing a worker with a machine will be more appealing to the degree that the machine is:

• Cheaper than the human worker
• More convenient and easier to control than the human worker

If workers demand more wages, machines become more attractive to bosses. Likewise with “meaningful work”: If workers demand more meaningful, lovable work, then they become less “convenient” to bosses. But workers whose value rests in how much they show they love their job are quite easy to control. Servility is built into the practice. Frase writes that “the truly dystopian prospect is that the worker herself is treated as if she were a machine rather than being replaced by one.” Even more dystopian is the prospect of being treated like a de facto machine while being expected to express boundless “human” joy about it.

The threat of automation, then, can be used to extract more emotional labor and more competitive advantage from humans. After all, one of the few things a robot can’t supply is enthusiasm."
labor  robhorning  authenticity  exploitation  robots  automation  emotionallabor  sales  2015  economics  business  peterfrase  miyatokumitsu  work  humans  huamntouch  passion 
august 2015 by robertogreco
Who Really Owns The Internet? - The Awl
"Can we solve the issues that you talk about without radically reorganizing the economy?

No. (Laughs) Which I think is why I’ve been so active. I’ve been thinking about this in connection with all these writers who are coming up who found each other through Occupy, and why all of us were willing to participate in that uprising despite all the problems and the occasional ridiculousness of it.

But the economy can be revolutionized or the economy can be reformed, and I don’t discount the latter option. That level of social change happens in unpredictable ways. It’s actually harder to think of a revolutionary event that has had a positive outcome, whereas there have been lots of reforms and lots of things that people have done on the edges that have had powerful consequences. Would I like to see an economic revolution? Definitely. But I think there are a lot of ways to insert a kind of friction into the system that can be beneficial.

This book is about economics, and the amazing, probably very American ability to not talk about economics—particularly with technology, which is supposed to be this magical realm, so pure and disruptive and unpredictable that it transcends economic conditions and constraints. The basic idea is that that’s not the case.

To a lot of people this is self-evident, but I was surprised at how outside the mainstream conversation that insight was. When money is brought up, there’s this incredible romanticism, like the Yochai Benkler quote about being motivated by things other than money. But we’re talking about platforms that go to Goldman Sachs to handle their IPOs. Money is here. Wake up!"



"When I defend institutions in this book, I knew I might provoke my more radical friends. The position that everything is corrupt—journalism is corrupt, educational institutions are corrupt, publishers are corrupt—sounds great. And on some level it’s true. They’ve disappointed us. But we need more and better—more robust, more accountable—institutions. So I tried to move out of the position of just criticizing those arrangements and enumerating all their flaws and all the ways they’ve failed us. What happens when we’ve burned all these institutions to the ground and it’s just us and Google?"



"Do you have advice for what people—people like me—who write or produce other work for the Internet can do about this situation?

I’m encouraged by all these little magazines that have started in the last few years. Building institutions, even if they’re small, is a very powerful thing, so that we’re less isolated. When you’re isolated, you’re forced into the logic of building our own brand. If you build something together, you’re more able to focus on endeavors that don’t immediately feed into that. That’s what an institution can buy you—the space to focus on other things.

What would help creators more than anything else in this country are things that would help other workers: Real public health care, real social provisions. Artists are people like everybody else; we need the same things as our barista.

I quote John Lennon: "You think you’re so clever and classless and free. One thing we need is an end to artist exceptionalism. When we can see our connection to other precarious people in the economy, that’s when interesting things could happen. When we justify our position with our own specialness…"
2014  astrataylor  internet  economics  occupywallstreet  ows  ip  intellectualproperty  universalbasicincome  marxism  miyatokumitsu  precarity  davidburrgerrard  interviews  small  institutions  scale  art  artists  markets  capitalism  automation  utopia  andrewblum  vancepackard  plannedobsolescence  libertarianism  edwardsnowden  freedom  socialmedia  libraries  advertising  benkunkel  publicbroadcasting  quotas  propaganda  technology  web  online  jessemyerson  utopianism  labor  work  artlabor  strickdebt  ubi 
april 2014 by robertogreco
In the Name of Love | Jacobin
"DWYL [“Do what you love. Love what you do.”] is a secret handshake of the privileged and a worldview that disguises its elitism as noble self-betterment. According to this way of thinking, labor is not something one does for compensation but is an act of love. If profit doesn’t happen to follow, presumably it is because the worker’s passion and determination were insufficient. Its real achievement is making workers believe their labor serves the self and not the marketplace."



"One consequence of this isolation is the division that DWYL creates among workers, largely along class lines. Work becomes divided into two opposing classes: that which is lovable (creative, intellectual, socially prestigious) and that which is not (repetitive, unintellectual, undistinguished). Those in the lovable-work camp are vastly more privileged in terms of wealth, social status, education, society’s racial biases, and political clout, while comprising a small minority of the workforce.

For those forced into unlovable work, it’s a different story. Under the DWYL credo, labor that is done out of motives or needs other than love—which is, in fact, most labor—is erased. As in Jobs’ Stanford speech, unlovable but socially necessary work is banished from our consciousness."



"Ironically, DWYL reinforces exploitation even within the so-called lovable professions, where off-the-clock, underpaid, or unpaid labor is the new norm: reporters required to do the work of their laid-off photographers, publicists expected to pin and tweet on weekends, the 46 percent of the workforce expected to check their work email on sick days. Nothing makes exploitation go down easier than convincing workers that they are doing what they love.

Instead of crafting a nation of self-fulfilled, happy workers, our DWYL era has seen the rise of the adjunct professor and the unpaid intern: people persuaded to work for cheap or free, or even for a net loss of wealth. This has certainly been the case for all those interns working for college credit or those who actually purchase ultra-desirable fashion-house internships at auction. (Valentino and Balenciaga are among a handful of houses that auctioned off monthlong internships. For charity, of course.) As an ongoing ProPublica investigation reveals, the unpaid intern is an ever-larger presence in the American workforce.

It should be no surprise that unpaid interns abound in fields that are highly socially desirable, including fashion, media, and the arts. These industries have long been accustomed to masses of employees willing to work for social currency instead of actual wages, all in the name of love. Excluded from these opportunities, of course, is the overwhelming majority of the population: those who need to work for wages. This exclusion not only calcifies economic and professional immobility, but it also insulates these industries from the full diversity of voices society has to offer."

[Also posted on Slate: http://slate.me/1b6YCP6 ]

[See also:
http://blog.pshares.org/index.php/the-ploughshares-round-down-why-do-what-you-love-is-bad-advice/
and http://www.princeton.edu/main/news/archive/S33/87/54K53/ and
http://www.newyorker.com/talk/financial/2014/01/27/140127ta_talk_surowiecki ]

[See also: https://the-pastry-box-project.net/mandy-brown/2014-April-23
http://tumblr.austinkleon.com/post/50107605469
http://austinkleon.com/2013/08/01/keep-your-overhead-low/ ]

[See also: http://notes.husk.org/post/84377941574/dwyl-nonsense
https://medium.com/p/90c75eb7c5b0
http://notes.husk.org/post/84377587459/mark-twain-important
http://notes.husk.org/post/82908857184/google-x-dwyl ]
business  ethics  work  labor  elitism  2014  miyatokumitsu  apple  stevejobs  internships  academia  dowhatyoutlove  dwyl 
january 2014 by robertogreco

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