Menu Home

“What do you do?”

From The Refusal of Work, by David Frayne, pg 199: What do you do? After ‘What is your name?’ and possibly ‘Where are you from?’ this is one of the first questions that strangers usually pose to one another, with convention dictating that this question is almost always an enquiry […]

Uber’s managed labor force

A really fascinating read on Harvard Business Review: We found that through Uber’s app design and deployment, the company produces what many reasonable observers would define as a managed labor force. Drivers have the freedom to log in or log out of work at will, but once they’re online, their […]

an uncertain future (for other people’s jobs)

I gave a lecture earlier this week about the cultural politics of automation and how this might shape the emergence of mass automation as a primarily structural reality.  I wish I’d seen this Pew poll when I was preparing the lecture: This sense of the inexorability of mass automation is deeply worrying. It’s possible that […]

The Politics of an Uncertain Future

The rise of the robots is a recurrent theme of popular culture. Robots are often seen as a threat, heralding the prospect of human beings being replaced by their creations, perhaps to the extent of being deemed useless by them and attacked. Underlying this fear is the reality of automation: technology being […]

how much time do workers spend worrying?

This extremely useful little book introduced me to this consideration recently. It’s very important to my developing argument about the intensification of work: the escalation of demands placed upon workers, their mediation through the internal conversations of individual workers and its implications for how they exercise their reflexivity in the workplace. Here’s […]

The Responsibilities of Academics

Do you have people working for you? How do you conceive of the relationship? Are they junior colleagues for whom you provide steering in an otherwise basically collective project? Or are they subordinates for whom you provide direction and oversight as a line manager? How aware are you of their […]

Cruel optimism in #highered

This powerful essay by Maria Warner in the LRB echoes what I was trying to say yesterday about the perils of passion: A university is a place where ideas are meant to be freely explored, where independence of thought and the Western ideals of democratic liberty are enshrined. Yet at the […]