The (De)Politicisation of Work – An Inquiry into the Political Function of Work*
Revista Crítica de Ciências Sociais
The paper revisits the debate on the political function of work, defined as the contribution of work to the production and transformation of social relations, in both conceptual and empirical terms. It begins by briefly recalling the terms of the debate about the emancipatory potential of work as seen by Karl Marx and Hannah Arendt, and then proceeds to argue, contra Arendt, that since work is a collective and cooperative activity, it is not a -political. The major contribution of the paper
... on of the paper consists of discussing the issue by critically considering the literature on both economic theories of the firm and labour economics, two strands of literature usually kept apart. We regard the quantification and individualisation trends that characterise the contemporary world of work as a de -politicisation process, one linked to the (mainstream) agency theory of the firm which legitimises financialisation. We conclude by outlining a way in which to re -politicise work and the firm.