Life Subsumption in Cognitive-Biocapitalism

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* Essay: Andrea Fumagalli - The Concept of the Subsumption of Labour under Capital: Life Subsumption in Cognitive-Biocapitalism.


From the book: Reconsidering Value and Labour in the Digital Age. Edited by Eran Fisher, Christian Fuchs. Palgrave Macmillan, 2015


Christian Fuchs et al.:

"Another question central to our understanding of value creation in contemporary capitalism revolves around the control of capital over labour, or subsumption. Andrea Fumagalli takes on this question in Chapter 13, “The Concept of the Subsumption of Labour under Capital: Life Subsumption in Cognitive-Biocapitalism”. For surplus-value to be extracted, capital needs to exercise control over labour. This has been achieved in the past through formal and real subsumption, resulting in the elongation of the work day and in rendering work more efficient, respectively. But these forms of subsumption were adequate for industrial capitalism where labour took place under the strict scrutiny of capital, mostly in the factory and in the office. In contemporary capitalism, which Fumagalli dubs cognitive bio-capitalism, and is founded on knowledge and learning, a new form of subsumption emerges – life subsumption. Fumagalli argues that valorization in life subsumption takes place through both formal and real subsumption that, in fact,merge and feed off of each other. Furthermore, Fumagalli shows how this new regime of subsumption carries with it a new regime of governance, based on debt, precarity, and the construction of a neoliberal, entrepreneurial subject."