Filed under book | Tags: · craft, hand, history, labour, machine, technology, work
Craftsmanship, says Richard Sennett, names the basic human impulse to do a job well for its own sake, and good craftsmanship involves developing skills and focusing on the work rather than ourselves. The computer programmer, the doctor, the artist, and even the parent and citizen all engage in a craftsman’s work. In this thought-provoking book, Sennett explores the work of craftsmen past and present, identifies deep connections between material consciousness and ethical values, and challenges received ideas about what constitutes good work in today’s world.
The Craftsman engages the many dimensions of skill—from the technical demands to the obsessive energy required to do good work. Craftsmanship leads Sennett across time and space, from ancient Roman brickmakers to Renaissance goldsmiths to the printing presses of Enlightenment Paris and the factories of industrial London; in the modern world he explores what experiences of good work are shared by computer programmers, nurses and doctors, musicians, glassblowers, and cooks. Unique in the scope of his thinking, Sennett expands previous notions of crafts and craftsmen and apprises us of the surprising extent to which we can learn about ourselves through the labor of making physical things.
Publisher Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2008
ISBN 0300149557, 9780300149555
Filed under journal | Tags: · art, ethics, labour, theory, work
The relationship between freedom and work is a complex one. For some, they are considered opposites: ‘true’ freedom is possible only once the necessity of work is removed, and a life of luxury attained. For others, work itself provides an opportunity to achieve a sense of freedom and authenticity. In recent years for example, advances in human resource management have promoted hard work, a deep sense of commitment to one’s job, and the acceptance of working conditions that are ostensibly exploitative, as offering the promise of freedom. Recent corporate and entrepreneurial celebrations of playfulness also provide examples of the deep entanglement of contemporary forms of knowledge work with ideals of freedom.
In this issue of ephemera, our contributors inquire into the relation between freedom and work. They ask, for example, whether it is even possible to free oneself from ideals of freedom? Or is the fantasy of an imagined place of freedom, the utopia in which no work taints our lives, simply too prevalent? It may be the case that in contemporary life, we fool ourselves yet further when we ask for freedom within our working life. But can we free ourselves from the very prospect of freedom?
Volume 13, Number 1
Publisher ephemera editorial collective in association with MayFlyBooks, February 2013
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative 3.0 Unported license
Filed under book | Tags: · history of technology, labour, morse code, technology, telegraphy, women
The role of the telegraph operator in the mid-nineteenth century was like that of today’s software programmer/analyst, according to independent scholar Tom Jepsen, who notes that in the “cyberspace” of long ago, male operators were often surprised to learn that the “first-class man” on the other end of the wire was a woman.
Like the computer, the telegraph caused a technological revolution. The telegraph soon worked synergistically with the era’s other mass-scale technology, the railroad, to share facilities as well as provide communications to help trains run on time.
The strategic nature of the telegraph in the Civil War opened opportunities for women, but tension arose as men began to return from military service. However, women telegraphers did not affect male employment or wage levels. Women kept their jobs after the war with support from industry—Western Union in particular—and because they defended and justified their role.
“Although women were predominantly employed in lower-paying positions and in rural offices, women who persisted and made a career of the profession could work up to managerial or senior technical positions that, except for wage discrimination, were identical to those of their male counterparts,” writes Jepsen. “Telegraphy as an occupation became gendered, in the sense that we understand today, only after the introduction of the teletype and the creation of a separate role for women teletype operators.”
My Sisters Telegraphic is a fresh introduction to this pivotal communications technology and its unsung women workers, long neglected by labor and social historians.
Publisher Ohio University Press, 2000
ISBN 0821413449, 9780821413449
Filed under book | Tags: · corporate culture, ethnography, labour, management, organization, post-bureaucracy, software industry, technology
Engineering Culture is an award-winning ethnography of the engineering division of a large American high-tech corporation. Now, this influential book—which has been translated into Japanese, Italian, and Hebrew—has been revised to bring it up to date. In Engineering Culture, Gideon Kunda offers a critical analysis of an American company’s well-known and widely emulated “corporate culture.” Kunda uses detailed descriptions of everyday interactions and rituals in which the culture is brought to life, excerpts from in-depth interviews and a wide variety of corporate texts to vividly portray managerial attempts to design and impose the culture and the ways in which it is experienced by members of the organization.
The company’s management, Kunda reveals, uses a variety of methods to promulgate what it claims is a non-authoritarian, informal, and flexible work environment that enhances and rewards individual commitment, initiative, and creativity while promoting personal growth. The author demonstrates, however, that these pervasive efforts mask an elaborate and subtle form of normative control in which the members’ minds and hearts become the target of corporate influence. Kunda carefully dissects the impact this form of control has on employees’ work behavior and on their sense of self.
In the conclusion written especially for this edition, Kunda reviews the company’s fortunes in the years that followed publication of the first edition, reevaluates the arguments in the book, and explores the relevance of corporate culture and its management today.
Publisher Temple University Press, 2006
Labor And Social Change series
ISBN 1592135471, 9781592135479
Filed under book | Tags: · labour, money, philosophy, sociology, value
In The Philosophy of Money, Georg Simmel puts money on the couch. He provides us with a classic analysis of the social, psychological and philosophical aspects of the money economy, full of brilliant insights into the forms that social relationships take. He analyzes the relationships of money to exchange, human personality, the position of women, and individual freedom. Simmel also offers us prophetic insights into the consequences of the modern money economy and the division of labour, in particular the processes of alienation and reification in work and urban life.
An immense and profound piece of work it demands to be read today and for years to come as a stunning account of the meaning, use and culture of money.
German edition: Philosophie des Geldes
Publisher Duncker & Humblot, Leipzig, 1900
Translated by Tom Bottomore and David Frisby from a first draft by Kaethe Mengelberg
First published in 1978
With a Foreword by Charles Lemert
Publisher Routledge, London/New York, 2011
Filed under brochure | Tags: · art, labour, work
Art is a place where the rules of engagement are open to question. The knowledge worker also appears to challenge rules of engagement but can only do so in the production of software or a set of new fragmented relationships. The artist can create alienated relationships without all these intricacies.
Why Work? was first presented in New York as part of the Goethe Institut Wyoming Building series What Is the Good of Work? organised by Maria Lind, Director of the Bard College Center for Curatorial Studies and Simon Critchley, Chair of Philosophy at the New School. This short text comprises the presentation made by artist, Liam Gillick – who responded to Lind and Critchley alongside Professor Gianni Vattimo on January 30, 2010.
Published on the occasion of the exhibition Post-Office, May-June 2010, Auckland, New Zealand.
Publisher Artspace, Auckland
Filed under book | Tags: · community, labour, liquid modernity, modernity, sociology, space, time, work
In this book, Bauman examines how we have moved away from a ‘heavy’ and ‘solid’, hardware-focused modernity to a ‘light’ and ‘liquid’, software-based modernity. This passage, he argues, has brought profound change to all aspects of the human condition. The new remoteness and un-reachability of global systemic structure coupled with the unstructured and under-defined, fluid state of the immediate setting of life-politics and human togetherness, call for the rethinking of the concepts and cognitive frames used to narrate human individual experience and their joint history.
This book is dedicated to this task. Bauman selects five of the basic concepts which have served to make sense of shared human life – emancipation, individuality, time/space, work and community – and traces their successive incarnations and changes of meaning.
Liquid Modernity concludes the analysis undertaken in Bauman’s two previous books Globalization: The Human Consequences and In Search of Politics. Together these volumes form a brilliant analysis of the changing conditions of social and political life by one of the most original thinkers writing today.
Publisher Polity Press
ISBN 074562409X, 9780745624099
Liquid Modernity (English, 2000)
Modernidade líquida (Portuguese, trans. Plínio Dentzien, 2001)
Tekutá modernita (Czech, trans. Blumfeld s.m., 2002)
Modernidad líquida (Spanish, trans. Mirta Rosenberg with Jaime Arrambide Squirru, 2003)
Płynna nowoczesność (Polish, trans. Tomasz Kunz, 2006)
Текучая современность (Russian, trans. С. А. Комаров, 2008)