ECC2013/Working and Caring Stream

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Working page for the "Doing away with labor" - stream of the Economics and the Commons Conference.

As of 2013-02-05 everything is incomplete, draft, subject to change.

Please edit, comment, contact at [email protected] as appropriate!

1. Motivation

We consider this stream´s thematic as structurally important for all other streams, yet very challenging at the same time. It might be difficult as we are using terminologies that do not necessarily mean the same thing to different people, which is further complicated by our multilingual conversations, where we may sometimes be lost in translation.

Labor is predominantly understood and used as the term for paid work/employment or debt based labor. This term does not reflect the time spent in work (or human activity) that needs to be done before paid labor can even start. The majority of our human activity is nevertheless done in the sphere of social reproduction, which is also often referred to as care work. Yet, social reproduction entails more than caring for people, it also means work invested in the material reproduction of the household, often referred to as household reproduction. To recognize the “the whole of (necessary) work” (for livelihood subsistence) is a prerequisite to overcome the separation of economic spheres of production (debt based economy) and reproduction (time based economy) and its different value allocations. This is an inherently feminist thought. Yet, commoners and some feminists do not want to turn the time based reproductive economy into the debt based paid labor sphere. They recognize that the risk is too high: an all-encompassing commodification and economization of life (and nature). Yet, we need transition strategies. While we can state that all people are workers, women are too! And therefore, Indian women, for example, demand social protection and renumeration for their work in the household and for livelihood sustenance outside of the paid formal labor market under the slogan “All Women are Workers!”

2. Objective

In this stream we follow two intentions: One is a sensitization for what it (structurally) means to “do away” with the limited notion of labor as employment and with an understanding of labor as a separated sphere of human activity that is subjected to the utilization rules of the market. It is here where we can carve out the genuine potential of the commons.

Another is to explore what it means to imagine the paid labor/employment of today as a common pool resource, and then how to organize and manage the “whole (of) work” necessary for our livelihood provisioning and social reproduction as a commons in a world of tomorrow.

3. What we are less likely to discuss: - - -

4. Methodology

The framing keynote by Daniela Gottschlich from Lüneburg University will introduce the basic concepts, assumptions and ideas to capture the imagination of the conference participants and indicate the direction of our common explorations. In the first break out session we will initially provide the opportunity to move around 6 thematic “speakers corners” where particular sub-issues of the framing key-note will be featured repeatedly 6 times 8 min each with a short time for discussion, Q&A if possible. Participants can move from speaker to speaker by their own choice of sequence. The purpose of this round is serving predominantly the sensitization for the issue in the hope that it will feed into other streams and nurture the “structural embedding” of the notion the “whole of work” to provide for "the whole of life" in a World of Commons.

The second break out session will provide intensive working time for expeditions into re-thinking the role of human (re)productive activity and its inherent nature in a generative commons network.


5. Schedule

Pre-conference on-line planning May 21: possible side-events May 23: 30 minute keynote to frame “labor” stream. May 23 120 min first breakout session with 6 thematic speakers corners and debate Suggestions for the 6 speakers corners and their speakers are (60 min):

1. Refreshing old terminology or inventing new - a sensitization for the embedded old and new thinking culture” ( Brigitte Kratzwald/Heike Loeschmann/Allan Butcher ) 2. “Direct reciprocity versus indirect reciprocity and stigmergic polycentrism as new phenomena of socialized, needs oriented production processes” (explained by Stefan Meretz, www. , 3. “Digitized work, distributed economies and the changing conditions of labor in the 21st century” (Michel Bauwens) ) 4. The potentials and limits of a basic income as a policy toward acknowledging “the whole of work” approach - an assessment from a feminist and commons perspective (Friederike Habermann) 5. Fighting for recognition, valuing social and household reproduction for social security provisions in the emerging economies: “All wo/men are workers!”(Soma Parthasarathy) 6. Existing Economic Alternatives and organising the work needed for livelihood provisioning in Intentional communities (Allen Butcher, the school of intentioneering)

Reflection session and open debate (60 min) We still have another hour after the speakers corner to meet in a smaller plenary setting and debate and reflect the “intake” from the two previous sessions. I am suggesting to direct the session toward mapping learning points, open questions, lines of tensions, doubts or conceived contradictions, inconclusive issues. Such a mapping will indicate areas of future information and research work and also the need for better communication.

May 24: - 150 min second breakout session on … - closing plenary session with stream organizers; report-back, discuss, synthesize

May 25: for those who chose to stay: How to get there from here? Post-conference followup