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  • The social brain and its missing body: Work in the age of semiocapital

Power, Nina, 2013, Book Section, The social brain and its missing body: Work in the age of semiocapital In: Neue Arbeitswelten: Ein Reader zu Harun Farockis Film ‘Ein Neues Produkt. Walter König. ISBN 9783863353506

Abstract or Description:

This essay, published in conjunction with the release of Harun Farocki’s film documenting the work of ‘creatives’ in Hamburg, A New Product [Ein Neues Produkt] (2012), takes a critical look at the contemporary world of work through the prism of claims made about the purported ‘immateriality’ of such labour. Power was invited to contribute this essay on the basis of her research into the future of work.
Power draws upon the work of Franco ‘Bifo’ Beradi and Silvia Federici to examine the claims made for the physical and psychological impact of work that directly engages communicative, linguistic and creative skills. She examines the relationship between material and immaterial labour, and philosophical arguments about the relationship between the body and the mind. As a way of overcoming both old and new binaries, Power argues that the labouring body needs to be placed in the centre of any discussion of the supposedly ‘non-physical’ nature of much contemporary service work. Here, feminist scholarship on the relationship between social and human reproduction, where both can be seen as inextricably linked forms of ‘work’, is key to overcoming the re-emergence of old binaries.
Power researched statistics for global employment tendencies, as well as the structural role of unemployment in ensuring the increasing precariousness of existing jobs. She deployed these data to suggest a way beyond both the mind/body split and the idea that the working class is no longer the subject of history. She relates feminist writing to contemporary ideas of precarious and immaterial, knowledge and language-based employment, thus linking up supposedly disembodied, immaterial types of work with embodied care work to present a new and positive image of the social whole.
This essay forms part of Power’s project on contemporary labour, which has included a series on the topic for The Guardian (2013).

Subjects: Creative Arts and Design > W800 Imaginative Writing
School or Centre: School of Humanities
Date Deposited: 26 Oct 2013 21:55
Last Modified: 01 Nov 2013 14:11
URI: http://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/1465

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