editorial

The politics of workers' inquiry

This special issue brings together a series of commentaries, intervention, and projects in various stages of completion, all centred on the theme of workers inquiry[1]. Workers’ inquiry is an approach to and practice of knowledge production that seeks to understand the changing composition of labour and its potential for revolutionary social transformation. It is the practice of turning the tools of the social sciences into weapons of class struggle.

Diagrammatics of organization

In this open issue of ephemera, we bring together a series of papers that engage with the diagrammatics of organization in various ways. Specifically, each contribution examines the production of a particular subject within a network of power relations: the entrepreneur within enterprise culture (Hanlon), the compulsive buyer within consumer society (Presskorn-Thygesen and Bjerg), the spectator within the world of art (Rodda), the cognitive labourer within the knowledge economy (Armano) and the good citizen within advanced liberalism (Barratt).

The communism of capital?

The ‘communism of capital’ – what could this awkward turn of phrase, this seeming paradox, mean? What might it signify with regards to the state of the world today? Does it have any relationship with the concept and reality of what we understand to be communism, and to what extent does it relate to the ways in which communist ideas, language and forms of organization are used presently? We can begin exploring the significance of the phrase by identifying some of the many conspicuous contexts in which elements of communism and capital meet today.

The politics of consumption

If Politics, following Aristotle (1984), is a matter of analysing, comparing and ultimately creating practices of human association, we will do well to regard consumption practices as inherently political. Such a regard requires us to take a comparative-prospective disposition towards the roles and practices that underpin the production and distribution of subsistence and luxury.

Free work

Freedom and work relate to each other in peculiar ways. Sometimes, they are considered opposites, since it may be only once we get rid of work or have the luxury of a life of leisure that we can be truly free. This was Marx’s view, for whom – at least most of the time – a clear incompatibility existed between the realm of freedom and the realm of labour.

Digital labour: Workers, authors, citizens

The papers in this issue of ephemera have their origins in a conference, ‘Digital Labour: Workers, Authors, Citizens’, held at the University of Western Ontario on October 16-18, 2009. The conference was organized by the Digital Labour Group, an assembly of scholars from within the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS), a non-departmentalized unit that houses programs in Library and Information Science, Journalism, and Media Studies.

Governing work through self-management

While self-management has emerged as a robust way of getting things done in present-day work life and organizations, it also presents itself as a conception of considerable multivalency and ambiguity. In a broad sense, self-management seems to require that employees think, feel and act in ways that contribute to the realization and improvement of the individual worker, but only insofar as they concomitantly anticipate and contribute to the various needs of the organization (Manz and Sims, 1989; Thomas, 2002; Costea et al, 2008).

The business of truth: Authenticity, capitalism and the crisis of everyday life

The poet does not participate in the game. He stays in the corner, no happier than those who are playing. He too has been cheated out of his experience – a modern man. (Benjamin, 1940: 332)

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