Name, Ort/Land: Thomas Atzert, Frankfurt/Main, Germany
E-Mail: thomas kein.org  ('@' entfernt -- Spam-Vermeidung!)
Zur Person: Übersetzer, u.a. des Buches "Empire" von Michael Hardt und Antonio Negri. 
Links: Paper on the concept of Immaterial Labour (in German)
Workshop : Immaterielle Arbeit 
Zusammen mit: Benni Baermann
Veranstaltungsdaten: 22. Mai / 14:00 / 3 Std. / Track C / Raum 3F / deutsch

Thomas Atzert: Co-operation of Minds. On Immaterial Labour

»One man draws out the wire, another straightens it, a third cuts it, a fourth points it, a fifth grinds it at the top for receiving the head: to make the head requires two or three distinct operations to put it on, is a peculiar business, to whiten the pins another; it is even a trade by itself to put them into paper; and the important business of making a pin is, in this manner, divided into about eighteen distinct operations.« Certainly social wealth today is not produced the way Adam Smith described back in 1776, using the example of a pin factory. And the production process has even changed since the times of what is commonly called the golden age of Fordism, characterised by grand industries and standardised mass production, typical for at least the most part of the 20th century. Now we entered postmodern times and it is so-called immaterial labour – characterised by the fact that it involves operating symbols and affects – that is to be found in the centre of the production process. Some talk of a real transformation of the nature of the mode of production.

To talk about immaterial labour does not mean, however, that we should get lost in describing single activities, focussing on sociological or technical details. The social transformations are accompanied by an increasingly global interweaving and interdependence of the use of communication, knowledge, language, and affects in the production process. At the same time work, i.e. the working day as well as the forms of employment, is becoming diffuse: all aspects of life and society are »put to work«, productivity pervades everything; at the same time competition is pushed to an extreme, and all of the guarantees of social welfare, that gave a certain amount of security until a few years ago, at least in Western Europe, are cut down.

The workshop should give the opportunity to discuss immaterial labour as a critical concept: Is it possible to use this concept in order to recognise the transformations of th production process and to analyse contemporary forms of exploitation? What is the relation of knowledge and division of labour today? Does the cooperation of immaterial labour show the paths of social liberation (a liberation that – in contrast with conservative, liberal, and socialist ideologies of work - has to be a liberation of non-work)?

Benni Bärmann: Die Brötchenfrage