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Precarious Labor, Precarious Lives Reading Group
Sun, November 2, 2014 @ 2:30 PM - 4:30 PM
Late capitalism has been characterized by rupture, instability, and contingency. Since the 1990s, scholars and activists have written about the impact of practices like “flexible accumulation” on workers and communities. These processes have intensified in the last two decades, and especially so since the recent global financial crisis. Concurrently, a number of cultural and social theorists have highlighted precariousness (or precarity) as a hallmark of this particular phase of neoliberal globalized capitalism.
We experience this in a very empirical and existential way, as so many of us can no longer count upon having (or keeping) a stable, secure job with benefits, or maintaining a roof over our heads. “Contingent labor” is not an abstraction but a harsh reality.
We are witnessing the systematic and seemingly permanent marginalization of a substantial portion of the global working class—from day laborers and street vendors to adjunct professors and other professionals. Neoliberal urban regimes, gentrication, rezoning, and the foreclosure crisis have all contributed to residential precarity. Precarity does not, of course, affect all of us equally—-how we live through precarity is shaped by age, race, gender, citizenship status, able-ness, geographical location and other factors. This collaboratively-run reading group is exploring precariousness both theoretically and empirically. In this six-week session, we will read selections from A Precariat Charter, and Brynjolfsson and McAfee’s The Second Machine Age, and then discuss directions for future readings.
For the first meeting, please read Chapter 1, and if possible Chapter 2 of A Precariat Charter.
Lisa Maya Knauer has been involved in Marxist education in New York since 1977. She was a founder of the NY Marxist School, and taught classes on a variety of topics from Marx’s Capital to radical women’s fiction. Currently she is a tenured radical at a public university. In addition to her participation in the Marxist Education Project, she works on immigrant workers’ rights and indigenous resistance movements in Guatemala.
David Worley, a retired college administrator, has been a socialist since the 1960s, when he was active in the civil rights and anti-war movements. He was subsequently active in labor union work. He served for several years on the board of directors of the Brecht Forum. He is currently a co-convener of the Revolutions Study Group with the Marxist Education Project and is a supporter of Health Care Now!, a group agitating for universal single-payer medical insurance in the U.S.
Suggested tuition: $65 / $85
No one turned away for inability to pay