Paradoxical empowerment: immaterial labor translated in a web of affective connections
Lorna Heaton and Serge Proulx
This essay explores the production of user-generated content by contrasting two analyses that are convergent in some respects, divergent in others. In our first line of analysis we use the work of Negri (1996) and Moulier-Boutang (2007) on ‘cognitive capitalism’ to extend some elements explored by Fuchs (2010, 2012) and Arvidsson and Colleoni (2012) on labor and value. This approach foregrounds the adaptability of capitalism and suggests that workers are endowed with “an inventive subjective power” that simultaneously influences and reproduces the mode of production. Our second line of analysis explores the later work of André Gorz (1997, 2003) who invites us to imagine a society in which social relationships would no longer be determined by the laws of the market, a post-market utopia. This approach points to the importance of collective organization and relational value production of user-generated content and suggests re-centering of the debate not around individuals and their labor, but on the web of affective connections between them.
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