This issue celebrates 20 years of ephemera. We, the editorial collective, feel this anniversary provides the opportunity to debate the pasts, presents and futures of critical publishing. Today, most academic journals are owned by commercial publishing houses and organized according to journal rankings and impact factors. Yet ephemera remains stubbornly independent of these global capitalist forces. In this anniversary issue, we want to raise questions about independence – independent thinking, independent publication, independent organizing.
This open issue is published against the background of a major global pandemic. The old ‘normal’ seems far away and undesirable, as a socio-ecological transformation becomes even more urgent. The contributions featured here scrutinize the current trends in the capitalist mode of production and envision the alternative organization of our societies. They examine new configurations of work, to which capital-led digitalization is often key, and ways to resist it. Attention is also paid to a fundamental rethinking of work, economy and care.
The editorial of this open issue of ephemera is written against the background of a major global pandemic. The disease known as COVID-19 is believed to have started in Wuhan, China, in December 2019. It rapidly spread across the world the following months, with various restrictive measures put into place to flatten the curve of contagion. Besides losses of lives globally, the pandemic has caused severe economic contraction on a historic scale (Hevia and Neumeyer, 2020).
Nowadays the newfound corporate penchant for sustainability programs and sustainability reporting is met with increasing disillusionment and critique on the part of the public, environmental groups, and critical management studies community, the realization being that if companies are jumping on the sustainability bandwagon, it is not because of a pang of responsibility for nature but because of a good business case (Banerjee, 2003; Painter-Morland and ten Bos, 2016; Phillips, 2014).