Transitioning from Work To Passionate Activity

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* Article: Travail, modulation, et puissance d'action. Par Philippe Zafirian. Seminaire; article #22, "Negri seminar", 13 octobre 2004



From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, 2005:

Zafirian intends to change our view of work. He covers five themes

- 1. The transition from a disciplinary society (Foucault) to a society of modulatory control (Deleuze).

Zafirian stresses how long it took for the factory system and Taylorism to impose themselves. It only became dominant after WWII ! Today all the disciplinary institutions are in crisis: we move towards the more open world of 'modulation'

   - of time (flexible time)
   - of space (different workplaces, remote work)
   - of activity (new forms of work/life separation and balance/combination)
   - of remuneration (gig work)
   - of subjective engagement (the demand for creativity and passion)

It is now the relationship objectives vs results that is the primary object of control. This is shift is both a re-organization of capital and represents a great social demand.

2. Work as a becoming

Zafirian distinguishes two different temporalities:

- 1) Abstract spatialized time is what is used in modernity to organize activity and which now takes the forms of a deadline. It is time made instrumental and abstracted from all quality. (“Le délai a remplacé le débit").

- 2) Concrete Qualitative Time, time as becoming (le temps-devenir; la duree de Bergson). In this type of time, transformation occurs between past and future (“entre le 'passé mémorisé'  et le ‘futur anticipé'.”). This present tension is characterized by "La conduite orientée vers la transformation du réel". (conduct that is oriented towards the transformation of reality), and it is coupled with a continuous evaluation leading to adaptation.

Success is defined by he ability to bring the desired transformation to a good end. In real corporate projects, the unfolding of the 'duree', is subsumed to the deadline. In cooperative projects, unlike in concurrent engineering which is still linearly conceived), the different subprojects co-condition each other.

5. Solitude (loneliness ?) at work.

Zafirian notes that the more recent waves of automation have increased the loneliness of workers, who are now facing their clients, or machines, alone (often both at the same time, dependent on system malfunction). They have sole responsability for a situation, before their management overseers. But his loneliness is open to communication with others in the organisation, and is not necessarily a 'isolation'.

- “Le salariat est certainement en position de faiblesse vis à vis des employeurs, mais jamais les salariés ont été aussi actifs dans leurs élaborations intellectuelles et prises de position; très loin de l’image des salariés 'laminés et passifs’, pas esclaves et, beaucoup moins que dans d’autres périodes, aliénés."