The uncertain bodily relations of contemporary economic practice
Marit Melhuus (University of Oslo)
Penny Harvey (University of Manchester)
Christian Krohn-Hansen (University of Oslo)
Appleton Tower, Lecture Theatre 2
Start time:
22 June, 2014 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

Placing the bodily uncertainties of labour as the nexus of economic practices, this panel attends ethnographically to the concept of precariousness. It traces how the value of labour emerges in uncertain spaces of possibility that typify many current work-places.

Long abstract:

This panel explores the ways in which an ethnographic focus on labour practices can further our understandings of how economic and social forces are registered and engaged in working bodies. Working through the relational dynamics of labour, health and moral sensibility that characterised the economic theories of the Scottish Enlightenment, we set out to explore the affective dimensions of the contemporary 'work-place'. We are particularly interested in attending ethnographically to the concept of precariousness by tracing how the value of labour emerges in the uncertain spaces of possibility that typify so many of these work-places. A focus on labour allows us to transcend the classical divisions between work/leisure; paid/unpaid; formal/informal; salaried/free/voluntary while still attending to how precarity inflects understandings and experiences of both personal and collective health. What de-stabilisations and accommodations are involved in securing a living under these conditions? How and when are relations of solidarity, friendship, and moral community enacted in work-places? The panel invites contributions from those interested in thinking about the ways in which informality and precarity are folded into the structures of the formal economy. We are interested in questions pertaining to scale and diversity, to regulation and deregulation, to material conditions and technological change, in short, to practices and process that illuminate the diverse ways in which labour is being reconfigured. By placing the bodily uncertainties of labour as the nexus of current economic practices, this panel hopes to explore how current understandings of a rising precariousness emerge in the spaces of everyday life.