Visions of futures from industrial workplaces: shop-floor reflexivities on work, political agency and social reproduction
Tommaso Trevisani (University of Naples L'Orientale)
Eeva Kesk├╝la (Tallinn University)
James Carrier (Max Planck Institute)
Start time:
23 July, 2016 at 9:00 (UTC+0)
Session slots:

Short abstract:

When social reproduction is under constant threat because of uncertainty and crisis, what are workers' tools to envision a future, a good life? What are the possibilities of political agency and collective action? Which legacies, shared values and imagined futures are they based on?

Long abstract:

Hypermobility of capital means that deindustrialisation is not a process only affecting the Western world. As industrial workplaces are downsized or their stability undermined, a state of constant uncertainty and continuous crisis takes over. This applies to old working class communities, where the same lifestyle has continued for generations, but also to newly enrolled drafts of casual and migrant labourers, and others to whom the promise of decent work carries an implicit vision of a common future. We are interested in workers' visions of the future in relation to their work and production process, as well as the opportunities for breaking with, or reproducing, the way of living and cultural world that workers are accustomed to. Drawing on Narotzky and Besiner, we focus on global capital flows and on understanding the economy around social reproduction, around the "objective and subjective possibilities to project life into the future ("hope")". With the collapse of the socialist systems and welfare regimes in Europe, and as socialist /Marxist models lose out to ideas on neoliberalism, we ask what would help workers to build new models for their visions of future? What kind of new ideas of agency, autonomy and political imagination emerge from working people's condition of uncertainty and crisis? And what are the prerequisites for hope for a better future? When ideas of 'hard work' and class no longer offer the basis to legitimate political claims, how and where do the alternatives emerge?