Variations n°17 – La critique du travail // Critique of Labour – Call for papers
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Twenty-five years after its first release, Variations – Revue internationale de théorie critique republishes Critique du travail, le faire et l'agir, a crucial work by the founder of the revue, Jean-Marie Vincent. Simultaneously, Variations calls for papers for its next issue which will be also called “Critique du travail”.
Within ten years, the francophone public debate has turned from proclamation of "the end of labour" to the political veneration of "work labour-value". Nowadays, the fear of mass unemployment resurgence seems to be the focus within the global crisis. Such intellectual erosion was rightly mocked by Robert Castel, Oskar Negt or Nancy Fraser in recent years. More deeply, it evokes the 1930's European shipwreck which ended with the leitmotif "Labour, Family, Fatherland" or "Arbeit macht frei". Refusal of labour is still struggling to get rid of the Christian injunction, when invoked in a provocative manner laziness (Lafargue) or Les chemins du Paradis (Gorz), when it is not summarized by the key word miserere (La misère du monde, Bourdieu) or subsumed by suffering (Dejours). To the servile slogan of “work more to earn more”, Debord had responded in advance by an exhilarating but lonely “Never work!” The current protest movements seem, on the contrary, to submit labor to the concept of good life.
In recent years, essays cleared the phenomenon of labour rejection, which appears for example in King Kong théorie by Virigne Despentes, Manifest gegen die Arbeit by Krisis Gruppe or Manifest der Glücklichen Arbeitslosen. Over the conceptualization field, the german debate reloads the Adorno's critique of late capitalism (Braunstein, Backhaus). John Holloway's Crack capitalism, pointing out abstract labour, is being translated in many languages. In France, the conceptual encounter between critique of political economy and the sociology of the Frankfurt School was raised for the first time in Jean-Marie Vincent's crucial book, Critique du travail, a theme echoed by Arno Münster (Le socialisme difficile, 2011), Alexander Neumann (Kritische Arbeitssoziologie, 2010) and Anselm Jappe (Crédit à mort, 2011). Nowadays Axel Honneth quotes Capital, from time to time. Did we reach a turning point ?
Both speeches of adhesion to labor and end of labor are clearly troubled by the actual real movement of things. The labor-value is contradicted by suffering at work place, if not suicide, mass-unemployement and protest movements against the enterprise of commodification. The idea of the end of the labour is questioned by the return of the marxian critique of capitalism, showing that wage labor is a variable amount of the capital on a global scale, as indicated by the relocation, restructuring and migration flows. Labour process studies analyze resistances at work within firms, while Sennett and others are approaching the corrosion of personality by flexibility and precariousness. Luc Boltansky has revived the concept of differential exploitation, to approach conflicts within companies, while Alex Demirović opened a research project about the workings of economic democracy. Struggle against harassment takes place is uprising in a thousand places...
Any other suggestions, extension, inflection, is welcome by principle, as well as proposals that may appear in the out-field section or among the reading reviews.
The deadline for submitting papers is June 30th 2012, for publication in October 2012 in the 17th issue of Variations – Revue internationale de théorie critique. Articles are subject to the opinion of the editorial comity's opinion.