Precarious Workers Brigade, 2011. Fragments Towards an Understanding of a Week that Changed Everything…. Originally commissioned for a special issue of Paletten, re-published in e-flux journal #24 (April, 2011) and Aranda, J., Vidokle, A., Wood, B. K., eds. (2012). ‘How much are you working - Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art’. Sternberg Press.
Precarious Workers Brigade, 2011. Tools for Collective Action - Precarity: The People’s Tribunal. Published in DIS Magazine (August, 2011) and Hickey, Amber ed (2012). A Guidebook of Alternative Nows, Journal of Aesthetics and Protest Press.
Carrotworkers’ Collective, 2011. Surviving Internships - Counterguide to Free Labour in the Arts.
Carrotworkers’ Collective, 2012. What is Work Worth?. FUSE
Precarious Workers Brigade, 2012. Three Workshops at Occupy LSX.
Precarious Workers Brigade, 2012. Training for Exploitation? Towards an Alternative Curriculum. The introduction of the document was re-published in DIS Magazine (May, 2012)
Precarious Workers Brigade, 2012. Open Letter: ‘Untitled (Labour’ symposium at Tate Britain. Art Monthly 358: July-August 2012
Precarious Workers Brigade, 2013. Organizing Free Labour. New Left Project
Carrotworkers’ Collective, 2013 . On Free Labour. OnCurating Issue 16/13: The Precarious Labour in the Field of Art
Article: ‘How to Find a Better Life?’ (Nina Power, Review31) review of PWB’s contribution to Julieta Aranda, Anton Vidokle, Brian Kuan Wood eds., ‘How much are you working - Post-Fordism, Precarity, and the Labor of Art’. Sternberg Press.
Article: ‘Precarity and Housing Politics in Austeriy London, UK’ (Mara Ferreri, Antipode April 2012) “During the PWB’s last assembly at the occupied Bank of Ideas, a formerly vacant UBS building in trendy Shoreditch, participants were asked to share how they made a living, including but moving beyond their work identity. Unsurprisingly, most participants were used to ‘flexible’ employment and made their living drawing from different income sources, juggling spells of unemployment and freelancing, as well as relying on partners, support networks and intermittent housing or work benefits. Starting from personal narratives, it became evident that a working definition of precarity could not be limited to labour status and work-based processes of collective identification, but had to encompass other aspects of living. And as the debate unfolded, it was noted that the vast majority of the ‘precarious workers’ present were tenants, many of whom were on short-term, insecure tenancies, regardless of whether they were renting from local authorities, social landlords or the private sector. Shifting from ‘work’ to ‘living’, the precarity compass pointed again and again at housing, and housing uncertainty was identified as a major cause of distress and anxiety, against which even the ghosts of long-term unemployment seemed to pale. So why is housing precarity still not on the movement’s agenda?”
Article: ‘Welfare reform: government backs system of working in ‘slivers of time’ (The Guardian, 14 Nov 2010) Ultra-flexible work system, which allows people to sell their labour in small blocks of time, is placed at the heart of the government’s welfare reforms
Articles: ‘Unemployed told: do four weeks of unpaid work or lose your benefits’ (The Guardian, 7 Nov 2010); ‘Young jobseekers told to work without pay or lose unemployment benefits’ (The Guardian, 16 Nov 2011)
Paper: ‘Wageless Life’ (Michael Denning, New Left Review 66, Nov-Dec 2010) Michael Denning asks if we need new concepts for contemporary forms of wagelessness. “The fetishism of the wage may well be the source of capitalist ideologies of freedom and equality, but the employment contract is not the founding moment. For capitalism begins not with the offer of work, but with the imperative to earn a living. Dispossession and expropriation, followed by the enforcement of money taxes and rent: such is the idyll of ‘free labour’. In those rare moments of modern emancipation, the freed people—from slavery, serfdom and other forms of coerced labour—have never chosen to be wage labourers. There may be a ‘propensity to truck, barter and exchange one thing for another’, as Adam Smith put it, but there is clearly no propensity to get a job.”
Reader: ‘Precarious Reader’ (Mute Vol 2#0, 2005) This Reader collects texts which address the problems and potentials of the concept of precarious labour. It reflects something of the current discussion and debate around social precariousness, precarious work, precarious life, and the struggles against this condition.
Book: ‘The Precariat - The New Dangerous Class’ (Guy Standing, 2011. Bloomsbury; video of lecture) Neo-liberal policies and institutional changes have produced a huge and growing number of people with sufficiently common experiences to be called an emerging class. In this book Guy Standing introduces what he calls ‘The Precariat’ - a growing number of people across the world living and working precariously, usually in a series of short-term jobs, without recourse to stable occupational identities or careers, stable social protection or protective regulations relevant to them. They include migrants, but also locals. Standing argues that this class of people could produce new instabilities in society. They are increasingly frustrated and dangerous because they have no voice, and hence they are vulnerable to the siren calls of extreme political parties. He outlines a new kind of good society, with more people actively involved in civil society and the precariat re-engaged. He goes on to consider one way to a new better society - an unconditional basic income for everyone, contributed by the state, which could be topped up through earned incomes.
Book: ‘ Precarious Rhapsody. Semiocapitalism and the pathologies of the post-alpha generation’ (Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi, 2010. Autonomedia) “The worker no longer exists as a person. He or she is only an interchangeable producer of microfragments of recombinant semiosis that enter into the continuous flux of the Net. Capital no longer pays for the availability of a worker to be exploited for a long period of time; it no longer pays a salary that covers the entire range of economic needs of a person who works. The worker (a machine endowed with a brain that can be used for fragments of time) becomes paid for his or her occasional, temporary services. Work time is fragmented and cellularized. Cells of time are for sale on the Net and businesses can buy as much as they want without being obligated in any way in the social protection of the worker. The intense and prolonged investment of mental and libidinal energies in the labor process has created the conditions for a psychic collapse that is transferred into the economic field with the recession and the fall in demand and into the political field in the form of military aggressivity. The use of the word collapse is not as a metaphor but as a clinical description of what is happening in the occidental mind.”
Paper: ‘Re-Thinking Creative Economy as Radical Social Enterprise’ (Angela McRobbie, 2011. Variant 41, Spring 2011) “…the thin-spread of creative work functions to disguise the normalisation of under-employment. Highly qualified but under-employed people under the age of 40 have become a common topic of discussion in Italy, Germany and France. This has given rise to all kinds of mini-job schemes and work-insertion programmes. Under-employment in the West is an inevitable outcome of post-Fordism, new technology and globalisation, and the outsourcing of labour to cheaper-to-produce countries. What creative work does is provide a frenzy of activity, projects and excitement which distracts attention away from the downtime between projects. In addition, creative projects disrupt the normal means of measuring and rewarding working time, since so many new projects, embarked on during downtime, are unpaid, they are done ‘on spec’. The relation between paid and unpaid work is constantly jumbled and opaque.”
Paper: ‘The New Geography of Work - Power to the Precarious?’ (Andrew Ross, Theory, Culture & Society, December 2008 vol. 25 no. 7-8 31-49) “Though they occupy opposite ends of the labor market hierarchy, workers in retail and low-end services and the ‘creative class’ temping in high-end knowledge sectors share certain elements of precarious, or nonstandard employment. While these different segments have existential conditions in common, is there any reason to imagine that they interpret or experience them in similar ways? And, even if they do, is there enough commonality to forge a political coalition of interest against the class polarization associated with economic liberalization?”
Book: ‘How the University Works: Higher Education and the Low-Wage Nation’ (Marc Bousquet, 2007. New York: New York University Press) “As much as we think we know about the modern university, very little has been said about what it’s like to work there. Instead of the high-wage, high-profit world of knowledge work, most campus employees, including the vast majority of faculty, really work in the low-wage, low-profit sphere of the service economy. Tenure-track positions are at an all-time low, with adjuncts and graduate students teaching the majority of courses. This super-exploited corps of disposable workers commonly earn fewer than $16,000 annually, without benefits, teaching as many as eight classes per year. Even undergraduates are being exploited as a low-cost, disposable workforce.”
Book (German): ‘What do you live off? Wovon lebst du eigentlich? Vom Überleben in prekären Zeiten’ (Jörn Morisse, Jörn, Rasmus Engler, 2007. Piper, Munich) “‘What do you live off?’ 20 artists are asked, and then they tell the sometimes most bizarre stories about their job, money and their strategies for surviving life as an artist in Germany when things are not going so well for them. However, even if they are struggling around on the breadline, they prefer to be independent than to let themselves be told what to do by someone else. Freedom is the elixir of the creative.”
Paper: ‘Governmentality and Self-Precarization - On the normalization of cultural producers’ (Isabell Lorey, 2006. Transform eipcp.net) “…what becomes apparent when problematizing this “self chosen” precarization, are the historical lines of force of modern bourgeois subjectivation, which are imperceptibly hegemonic, normalizing, and possibly block “counter-behavior”
Article: ‘Hannah and Her Sisters’ (Artforum, Dec 2010) “Asked to contribute work to the current New Museum show “Free,” WAGE (Working Artists in the Greater Economy) had demurred, choosing instead to work with curator Lauren Cornell to negotiate artists’ fees for everyone in the exhibition. “Paying artists should be stylish the way eating organic food is stylish,” artist and WAGE co-conspirator K8 Hardy declared (…) “Free” is hardly the first museum exhibition to pay its artists, but it is the first to be awarded “WAGE certification.” During the Q&A, filmmaker Matt Wolf wondered aloud whether any funders were influential enough to start a trend of giving money only to museums that paid artists’ fees, as had happened in Canada. A union organizer in the audience had a whole list of suggestions. “Get some money and hire this organizer to get us going!” artist Barbara Hammer exclaimed. “What are your goals?” Cornell pressed her guests. “We move slowly,” artist A. K. Burns admitted: The WAGErs have been collecting artists’ surveys online for months, but they want to get more responses before crafting a plan of action. “We’re all really busy with our lives,” she said, “and we’re doing this on the side.” “We’re not labor organizers,” A. L. Steiner said. “We realize there’s a lot of potential here, but we need more time in order to move it forward.””
Reader: ‘Art Work - National Conversation About Art, Labour, And Economics’ (2009) Art Work is a newspaper and accompanying website that consists of writings and images from artists, activists, writers, critics, and others on the topic of working within depressed economies and how that impacts artistic process, compensation and artistic property.