Home / Sezioni / globi / Is passionate work a neoliberal delusion?

facebook-link twitter-link


Registrati alla newsletter di sbilanciamoci.info


Ultimi link in questa sezione

Turni di 12 ore e dormitori, l’Europa di Foxconn sembra la Cina
La vera tragedia europea è la Germania
Redistributing Work Hours
Institutions and Policies
A Finance Minister Fit for a Greek Tragedy?
I dannati di Calais
Are creditors pushing Greece deliberately into default?

Is passionate work a neoliberal delusion?


The rise of the creative economy encourages self-interest over collective action in the arts, but all is not lost.

In the early 2000s, the ‘New Labour’ government in the UK warmly embraced an ethos of ‘Cool Britannia.’ ‘Creative work’ formed an important component of this ethos, emphasizing the role of the arts in the economy. In more recent times of austerity, the debate over creative work has taken on a key political significance in relation to the kinds of jobs that young people may be capable of ‘self-inventing’ as an alternative to unemployment, or to welfare-to-work jobs in stores like Poundland.

One of the most perplexing issues facing social scientists and policy-makers is the sheer enthusiasm on the part of young people for ‘creative’ jobs they know in advance will require long stints of working, often through the night, for relatively low pay. Such enthusiasm is unabated even for those who are well-versed in the politics of precaritie, and this opens up important questions for the future of work.

In particular, does this ethos confirm Michel Foucault’s oft-quoted insight that power works most effectively when it is tied to the promise of pleasure and self-reward, in this case through ‘creative enterprise’ or ‘passionate work’?

One way of responding to the romance of passionate work is to consider how this youthful enthusiasm has been taken up by governments for the project of neoliberalism, through what one might call a distinctive ‘creativity dispositif’—an assortment of instruments, most of which have an emphasis on training or pedagogy. The aim is to develop a specific range of positive dispositions towards a new world of work which relies on self-entrepreneurial skills, offset by the promise of ‘pleasure in work’ in the form of unleashing uniquely personal creative capacities.

This dispositif oversees novel forms of job creation in times of unemployment and under-employment. It orchestrates an expansion of the (lower) middle classes following years of government sponsored growth in the higher education system. In supporting the creative tendencies of this sizable cohort it asks them to act as guinea pigs in testing out this new world of work without the raft of social security entitlements and welfare provisions that were the hallmark of the post-World War II ‘social contract’ in the UK between capital and labour.

read more