Open to Gallatin transfer students only. Permission required. To register, please contact Gallatin’s Transfer Student Class Advisers (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Work—especially wage labor—has come to be assumed as a necessary and unavoidable orientation of modern adult life. Even more, we assume that work is intrinsic to our sense of identity and self-worth. Attached to modern understandings of work are implicit values and morals, specifically the work ethic that frames work as individualistic, merit-based, and belonging to the private sphere. However, recent political critiques have begun to (re) question the ways in which labor and spaces of work constitute (or exclude) us as social and political subjects. In this seminar we will consider work as not only connected and buttressed by the political sphere but as itself political. Our aim will be to examine the unquestioned values that inhere in our understanding of work as well the ways in which the organization of modern forms of work constitute us and organize us a political subjects. In doing so we will consider how labor relations produce and reproduce us as embodied and affective subjects that sustain or exclude different classes, genders, races and ages. We will begin by first examining classical understandings and critiques of the organization of work in the writings of John Locke, Adam Smith, Marx, and Max Weber. We will then turn to contemporary critiques of work including those that point to postwork imaginaries. What would it look and feel like to live in a postwork society? How would we reorganize our time? What creative projects might ensue? What conditions (a basic universal income?) would make such a society possible? Readings for this section of the course may include: Arendt, Foucault, Baudrillard, Barbara Ehrenreich, Aronowitz, Negri, Bloch, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Kathi Weeks.