Work is changing. New technologies are transforming how certain kinds of labour are performed and governed, including greater remote working, the normalisation of digital surveillance, and the growth of algorithm-based management techniques.
Advancements in automation, robotics, and artificial intelligence are sometimes projected to bring about widespread technological unemployment. The rise of the gig economy has been characterised by new forms of temporary and flexible work that is mediated by digital platforms. The climate crisis is also creating pressures to transition away from carbon-intensive industries, with corresponding impacts on jobs expected in areas like energy, engineering, and transportation. So too, wider demographic shifts in much of the world are seeing increased demand for casualised workers in sectors such as health and social care.
These changes come with renewed dangers, such as workers being subjected to overbearing managerial authority and greater levels of economic precarity. But they also present opportunities for organising our working lives differently. How should we conceptualise these challenges? And what can and should be done to meet them? This report looks to the civic republican tradition for answers to these questions.
Civic republicans oppose dominating power and advocate for institutions that will promote the common good. Republican thought has undergone an economic turn in recent years, including increased attention to the position of ordinary workers. This report aims to show how these theoretical interventions can inform discussions around policy and political organising relevant to the future of work. In particular, it explores an analysis of work proposed by radical republicans who seek to prevent a further entrenchment of economic unfreedom in our societies.
* Working paper by
Dr Tom O’Shea, Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Roehampton
ENA Centre for Political Theory | Co-ordinator: Yiannis Kouris