The idea that not working can be an active, positive, even material quality is not new. The term désœuvrement: literally ‘unworking’, or ‘the absence of work’ has been examined by many thinkers, but it is it so simply achieved?
Work Want Work considers in captivating detail how a logic of work has surreptitiously integrated itself into everything we do, even as the place of formal work has become dissipated and unreliable, and even as certain utopian writers are calling for its abolishment. Through an interrogation of sociological data, political theory, legislation, the testimonies of workers and an eclectic mix of cultural texts – from Lucian Freud to Google, Anthony Giddens to selfies, Jean-Luc Nancy to Amy Winehouse – Pfannebecker and Smith lay out how capitalism has put our time, our subjectivities, our experiences and our desires to work in unprecedented ways only possible on the basis of globalised technologies.
But at a time where the end of work is proclaimed from so many corners, with Silicone Valley idealists, social democratic politicians and left-wing theorists all anticipating a fully automated future, can we really prescribe what humanity and society will look like post-work?