Multitudes 17 on the New Engagement-Based Work Culture

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* Special Issue: Multitudes 17: Philippe Zafirian: “Controle d’engagement et productivité sociale”.

Contextual Quote

"La précarité = “Un ensemble de conditions - matérielles et symboliques - qui déterminent une incertitude quant à l'accès soutenu aux ressources essentielles pour le plein développement de la vie d’un sujet."


From the reading notes of Michel Bauwens, 2004

  • From the point of view of capital
   - Nous avons bascule d’une 'société de contrôle disciplinaire’ vers une 'société de contrôle d’engagement’

The freedom of the contemporary worker can be explained in analogy with an elastic: It can bend, but there are constraints; or it can be compared to the condition of a prisoner with a electronic bracelet, you are free within a perimeter

   - the worker is considered to be variable capital, only the results count, its profitability
   - payment is no longer a salary, but the price of the engaged 'micro-capital'
   - though the classic industrial collective no longer exist, the contemporary worker is not 'alone', but inserted in a network, engaged in a 'client process', the latter 
paying for a total service
   - “Le travail n’est plus collectif, mais il y a une inter-relation des démarches , grâce à la circulation fluide d’information

* All of this creates "new subjectivities"!

   - “Ce n’est pas la liberté qui résiste à la domination, mais la domination qui vise a la contenir, à bloquer l’expression de la liberté"
   - each type of society has its type of regulation: the disciplinary society was regulated by the welfare state apparatus
   - social productivity centered around the output of workers and white-collar management
   - innovation came from the R&D departments who reorganized men and machinery
   - The lines of flight were:
       - 1) escape from discipline
       - 2) yearning to take initiative
       - 3) flight into pension, illness and other security schemes

Zafirian calls the new type of society, "La société de l’engagement créatif"

The knowledge aspect is not essential, but it's relational action. The divide between knowledge and competence to act, can no longer be separated. This is so because we have a real-tie, event-driven economy, which requires constant adaptation. Also because of the shift to services: "Le marché disparaît, le public s’affirme."

Adaptability requires initiative and creation: "Qui dit initiative dit engagement de la subjectivité et rupture avec les adaptations mécanistes et avec les conformismes de pensée".

It is also always an ethical decision (more than the intellect alone)

Zafirian insists on work as a communal engagement, which requires a permanent dialogue. The old regulation is dying because it no longer has an object. The new mode no longer guarantees security, but instead guarantees the conditions for continued creativity. Two temporalities are involved. The stressful one of engagement and decision vs. the time for resourcing oneself.