After 30 years of neo-liberalism, the meaning and structure of work have changed radically. With the market as the organising principle of state and society, capital no longer utilises the products of workers’ labour power, but directly targets the whole personality, social behaviour, energy and lifestyle.
How we will work in the future and who has the power to decide the answer to that question are the subjects of Harun Farocki’s film Ein neues Produkt (A New Product, 2012). The film follows a team of management consultants as they develop a new consulting product, exposing, amidst flip charts and models, the psychological and ideological mechanisms of contemporary management culture.
The essays in this reader take up the topics broached by the film, exploring the spatial planning models of immaterial labour; the history of ergonomics and its social implications; the influence of management consulting on corporations; power shifts since Taylorism; the process by which the economic has continuously expanded to encompass the social; the physical aspect of immaterial labour; and the pointlessness of post-Fordist labour, culminating in the fundamental awkwardness of the office as workplace.
English and German text.