The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, by Kathi Weeks

By Kathi Weeks

In The challenge with Work, Kathi Weeks boldly demanding situations the presupposition that paintings, or waged hard work, is inherently a social and political sturdy. whereas revolutionary political pursuits, together with the Marxist and feminist pursuits, have fought for equivalent pay, greater paintings stipulations, and the popularity of unpaid paintings as a valued type of hard work, even they've got tended to just accept paintings as a naturalized or inevitable job.

Weeks argues that during taking paintings as a given, now we have “depoliticized” it, or got rid of it from the world of political critique. Employment is now principally privatized, and work-based activism within the usa has atrophied. we now have permitted waged paintings because the basic mechanism for source of revenue distribution, as a moral legal responsibility, and as a way of defining ourselves and others as social and political topics.

Taking up Marxist and feminist evaluations, Weeks proposes a postwork society that may permit humans to be effective and artistic instead of relentlessly sure to the employment relation. paintings, she contends, is a sound, even the most important, topic for political theory.

Listen to Weeks talk about The challenge with Work at the KPFA (Berkeley, CA) exhibit Against the Grain

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Additional info for The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries

Example text

If, as I maintain, a political theory of work should address the problem of freedom, a political theory of freedom should also focus on work. ∞≥ Linking the previous distinction between class and work to this conceptual pair might help to clarify my concerns in this respect. Rather than a politics of class focused primarily on issues of economic redistribution and economic justice—particularly a politics that seeks to alter wage levels to redraw the map of class categories—the politics of work I am interested in pursuing also investigates questions about the command and control over the spaces and times of life, and seeks the freedom to participate in shaping the terms of what collectively we can do and what together we might become.

According to this account, we work because we want to: work provides a variety of satisfactions—in addition to income, it can be a source of meaning, purpose, structure, social ties, and recognition. But while both explanations are undoubtedly important, they are also insu≈cient. Structural coercion alone cannot explain the relative dearth of conflict over the hours we are required to work or the identities we are often expected to invest there; individual consent cannot account for why work would be so much more appealing than other parts of life.

To examine its social and historical specificity and understand its impact on our lives, this most familiar of doctrines must first be rendered strange. Indeed, given the normalization of these work values, perhaps the most important task and lasting achievement of Weber’s analysis is the powerful estrangement from the reified common sense about work that it manages to produce. In this case, the periodizing frame and story of the ethic’s religious origins serve Weber well; the alternative historical perspectives they identify provide the reader with the possibility of critical distance.

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