Much of the work performed today is immaterial labor and it involves new power relations in which NOTE: Lazzarato is not describing digital. the hypothesis that, whilst the concepts of immaterial and affective labour – as theorised primarily by Maurizio Lazzarato, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri. Maurizio Lazzarato: Immaterial Labour Immaterial Labour – Definition: “ immaterial labour () is () the labor that produces the informational and cultural.
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A significant amount of empirical research has been conducted concerning the new forms of the organization lazzsrato work. This, combined with a laazarato wealth of theoretical reflection, has made possible the identification of a new conception of what work is nowadays and what new power relations it implies. An initial synthesis of these pabor – framed in terms of an attempt to define the technical and subjective-political composition of the working class can be expressed in the concept of immaterial labor, which is defined as alzzarato labor that produces the informational and cultural concent of the commodity.
The concept of immaterial labor refers to two different aspects of labor. On the one hand, as regards the “informational content” of the commodity, it refers directly to the changes taking place in workers’ labor processes in big companies in the industrial and tertiary sectors, where the skills involved in direct labor are increasingly skills involving cybernetics and computer control and horizontal and vertical communication. On che other hand, as regards the activity that produces the “cultural content” of the commodity, immaterial labor involves a series of activities that are not normally recognized as “work” – in other words, ommaterial kinds of activities involved in defining and fixing cultural and artistic standards, fashions, tastes, consumer norms, and, more strategically, public opinion.
Once the privileged domain of the bourgeoisie and its children, these activities have since the end of the s become the domain of what we have come to define as “mass intellectuality. The “great transformation” that began at the start of the s has changed the very terms in which the question is posed. Manual labor is increasingly coming to involve procedures that could be defined as “intellectual,” and the new communications technologies increasingly require subjectivities that are rich in knowledge.
It is not simply that intellectual labor has become subjected to the norms of capitalist production. What has happened is that a new “mass intellectuality” has come into being, created out of a combination of the demands of capitalist production and the forms of “self-valorization” that the struggle against work has produced. The old dichotomy between “mental and manual labor,” or between “material labor and immaterial labor,” risks failing to grasp the new nature of productive activity, which takes this separation on board labot transforms it.
The split between conception and immterial, between labor and creativity, between author and audience, is simultaneously transcended within the “labor process” and reimposed as political lazarato within the “process of valorization. Twenty years of restructuring of the big factories has led to a curious paradox. The various different post-Fordist models have been constructed both on the defeat of the Fordist worker and on the recognition of the centrality of an ever increasingly intellectualized living labor within production.
In today’s large restructured company, a worker’s work increasingly involves, at various levels, an ability to choose among different alternatives and thus a degree of responsibility regarding decision making. The concept of “interface” used by communications sociologists provides a fair lmmaterial of the activities of this kind of worker – as an interface between different functions, between lazzararo work teams, between different levels of the hierarchy, and so forth.
What modern management techniques are looking for is for “the worker’s soul to become part of the factory. It is around immateriality that the quality and quantity of labor are organized. This transformation of working-class labor into a labor of control, of handling information, into a decision-making capacity that involves the investment of subjectivity, affects workers in varying ways according to their positions within the factory hierarchy, but it is nevertheless present as an irreversible process.
Immterial can thus be defined as the lablr to activate and manage productive cooperation. In this phase, workers are expected labot become “active subjects” in the coordination of the various functions of production, instead of being subjected to it as lazzaratk command. We arrive at a point where a collective learning process becomes the heart of productivity, because it is no longer a matter of lazzarato different ways of composing or organizing already existing job functions, but of looking for new ones.
The problem, however, of subjectivity and its collective form, its constitution and its development, has immediately expressed itself as a clash between social classes within the organization of work.
I should point out that what I am describing is not some utopian vision of recomposition, but the very real terrain and conditions of the conflict between social classes.
The capitalist needs to find an unmediated way ikmaterial establishing command over subjectivity itself; the prescription and definition of tasks transforms into a prescription of subjectivities. The new slogan of Western societies is that we should all “become subjects”. Participative management is a technology of power, a technology for creating and controlling the “subjective processes. First and foremost, we have here a discourse that is authoritarian: The “tone” is that of the people who were in executive command under Taylorization; all that has changed is the content.
Second, if it is no longer possible to lay down and specify jobs and responsibilities rigidly in the way that was once done with “scientific” studies of workbut if, on the contrary, jobs now require cooperation and collective coordination, then the subjects of that production must be capable of communication – they must be active participants within a work team.
The communicational relationship both vertically and horizontally is thus completely predetermined in both form and content; it is subordinated to the “circulation of information” and is not expected to be anything other. The subject becomes a simple relayer of codification and decodification, whose transmitted messages must be “clear and free of ambiguity,” within a communications context that has been completely normalized by management. The necessity of imposing command and the violence that goes along with it here take on a normative communicative form.
The management mandate to “become subjects of communication” threatens to be even more totalitarian than the earlier rigid division between mental and manual labor ideas and executionbecause capitalism seeks to involve even the worker’s personality and subjectivity within the production of value. Capital wants a situation where command resides within the subject him- or herself, and within the communicative process.
The worker is to be responsible for his or her own control and motivation within the work group without a foreman needing to intervene, and the foreman’s role is redefined into that of a facilitator. In fact, employers are extremely worried by the double problem this creates: Today’s management thinking takes workers’ subjectivity into consideration only in order to codify it in line with the requirements of production.
And once again this phase of transformation succeeds in concealing the fact that the individual and collective interests of workers and those of the company are not identical. I have defined working-class labor as an abstract activity that nowadays involves the application of subjectivity.
In order to avoid misunderstandings, however, I should add that this form of productive activity is not limited only to highly skilled workers; it refers to a use value of labor power today, and, more generally, to the form of activity of every productive subject within postindustrial society. One could say that in the highly skilled, qualified worker, the “communicational model” is already given, already constituted, and that its potentialities are already defined. In the young worker, however, the “precarious” worker, and the unemployed youth, we are dealing with a pure virtuality, a immateril that is as yet undetermined but that already shares all the characteristics of postindustrial productive subjectivity.
The virtuality of this capacity is neither empty nor ahistoric; it is, rather, an opening lazzaratk a potentiality that have as their historical origins and antecedents the “struggle against work” of the Fordist worker and, in more recent times, the immateial of socialization, educational formation, and cultural self-valorization.
This transformation of the world of work appears even more evident when one studies the social cycle of production: Here one can measure the extent to which the cycle of immaterial labor has come to assume a strategic role within the global organization of production.
The various activities of research, conceptualization, management of human resources, and so forth, together with all the various tertiary activities, are organized within computerized and multimedia networks. These are the terms in which we have to understand the cycle of production and the organization of labor. Oabor integration of scientific labor into industrial and tertiary labor has become one of the principal sources of productivity, and it is becoming a growing factor in the cycles of production that organize it.
All the characteristics of the postindustrial economy both in industry and society as a whole are highly present within the classic forms of lazzarqto production: The activities of this kind of immaterial labor force us to question the classic definitions of work and workforce, because they combine the results of various different labbor of work skill: This immaterial labor constitutes immateriql in forms that are immediately collective, and we might say that it exists only in the form of networks and flows.
The lazzsrato of the lazarato of production of immaterial labor because this is exactly what it is, once we abandon our factoryist prejudices – a cycle of production is not obviously apparent to the eye, because it is not defined by the four walls of a factory. The location in which it operates is outside in the society at large, at a territorial level that we could call “the basin of immaterial labor. The cycle of production comes into operation only when it is required by the capitalist; once the job has been done, the cycle dissolves back into the networks and flows that make possible the reproduction and enrichment of its productive capacities.
Precariousness, hyperexploitation, mobility, and hierarchy are the most immwterial characteristics of metropolitan immaterial labor. Behind the label of the independent “self-employed” worker, what we lazzarafo find is an intellectual proletarian, but who is recognized as such only by the employers who exploit him or her. It is worth noting that in this kind of working existence it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish leisure time from work time.
Immaterial Labor – Maurizio Lazzarato
In a sense, life becomes inseparable from work. This labor form is also characterized by real managerial functions that consist in 1 a certain ability to manage its social relations and 2 the eliciting of social cooperation within the structures of the basin of immaterial labor.
The quality of this kind of labor power is thus defined not only by its professional capacities which make possible the construction of the cultural-informational content of the commoditybut also by its ability to lavor its own activity and act as the coordinator of the immaterial labor of others production and management of the cycle. This immaterial labor appears as a real mutation of “living labor. Immaterial labor finds itself at the lazzarao or rather, it is the interface of a new relationship between production and consumption.
The activation of both productive cooperation and the social albor with the consumer is materialized within and by the process of communication. Kazzarato role of immaterial labor labod to promote continual innovation in the forms and conditions of communication and thus in work and consumption. It gives form to and materializes needs, the imaginary, consumer tastes, and so forth, and these products in turn become powerful producers of needs, images, and tastes.
The particularity of the commodity produced through immaterial labor its essential use value being given by its value as informational and cultural content consists in the fact that it is not destroyed in the act of consumption, but rather it enlarges, transforms, and creates the “ideological” and cultural environment of the consumer. This commodity does not produce the physical capacity of labor immaerial instead, it transforms the person who uses it.
Immaterial labor produces first and foremost a “social relationship” a relationship of innovation, production, and consumption. Only if it succeeds in this production does its activity have an economic value. lazzatato
Immaterial labor – Wikipedia
This activity makes immediately apparent something that material production immaterizl “hidden,” namely, that labor produces not only commodities, but first and foremost it produces the capital relation. My working hypothesis, then, is that the cycle of immaterial labor takes as its starting point a social immateerial power that is independent and able to organize both its own work and its relations with business entities.
Industry does not form or create this new labor power, but simply takes it on board and adapts it. Industry’s control over this new labor lazzaarto presupposes the independent organization and “free entrepreneurial activity” of the labor power. Advancing further on immatdrial terrain brings us into the debate on the nature of work in the post-Fordist phase of the organization of labor.
Among economists, the predominant view of this problematic can be expressed in a single statement: Moving from this common basis, there are two differing schools of thought: In the former, the attempt to solve the problem comes through a redefinition of the problematic of the market. It is suggested that in order to explain the phenomena of communication and the new dimensions of organization one should introduce not only cooperation and intensity of labor, but also other analytic variables anthropological variables?
In fact, the neoclassical model has considerable inmaterial in freeing itself from the coherence constraints imposed by the theory of general equilibrium. The new phenomenologies of labor, the new dimensions of organization, communication, the potentiality of spontaneous synergies, the autonomy of the subjects involved, and the independence of the networks were neither foreseen nor foreseeable by a general theory that believed that material labor and an industrial economy were indispensable.
Today, with the new data available, we find the microeconomy in revolt ikmaterial the macroeconomy, and the classical model is corroded by a new and irreducible anthropological reality. Systems theory, by eliminating the constraint of the market and giving pride of place pazzarato organization, is more open to the new phenomenology of lazzzarato and in particular lazzxrato the emergence of immaterial labor.
In more developed systemic theories, organization is conceived as an ensemble of factors, both material and immaterial, both individual and collective, that can permit a given group to reach objectives.
The success of this organizational process requires instruments of regulation, either voluntary or automatic. It becomes possible to look at things from the point of view of social synergies, and immaterial labor can be taken on board by virtue of lqzzarato global efficacy.
These viewpoints, however, are still tied to an image of the organization of work llabor its social territory within which effective activity from an economic viewpoint in other words, the activity conforming to the objective must inevitably be considered as a surplus in relation to collective cognitive mechanisms.
Sociology and labor economics, being systemic disciplines, are both incapable of detaching themselves from this position.
I believe that an analysis of immaterial labor and a description of its organization can lead us beyond the presuppositions of business theory – whether in its neoclassical school or its systems theory school. It can lead us to define, at a territorial level, a space for a radical autonomy of the productive synergies of immaterial labor.
We can thus move against the old schools of thought to establish, decisively, the viewpoint of an “anthropo-sociology” that is constitutive. Once this viewpoint comes to dominate within social produc – tion, we find that we have an interruption in the continuity of models of production.
By this I mean that, unlike the position held by many theoreticians of post-Fordism, I do not believe that this new labor power is merely functional to a new historical phase of capitalism and its processes of accumulation and reproduction.
This labor power is the product of a “silent revolution” taking place within the anthropological realities of work and within the reconfiguration of its meanings. Waged labor and direct subjugation to organization no longer constitute the principal form of the contractual relationship between capitalist and worker.
A polymorphous self-employed autonomous work has emerged as the dominant form, a kind of “intellectual worker” who is him or herself an entrepreneur, inserted within a market that is constantly shifting and within networks that are changeable in time and space.
Up to this point I have been analyzing and constructing the concept of immaterial labor from a point of view that could be defined, so to speak, as “microeconomic. I want to demonstrate in particular how the process of valorization tends to be identified with the process of the production of social communication and how the two stages valorization and communication immediately have a social and territorial dimension.