The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics, and Postwork Imaginaries
In The Problem with Work, Kathi Weeks boldly challenges the presupposition that work, or waged labour, is inherently a social and political good. While progressive political movements, including the Marxist and feminist movements, have fought for equal pay, better work conditions, and the recognition of non-paid work as a valued form of labour, even they have tended to accept work as a naturalized or inevitable activity. Weeks argues that in taking work as a given, we have "depoliticized" it, or removed it from the realm of political critique. Employment is now largely privatized, and work-based activism in the United States has atrophied. We have accepted waged work as the primary mechanism for income distribution, an ethical obligation, and a means of defining ourselves and others as social and political subjects. Taking up Marxist and feminist critiques, Weeks proposes a post-work society that would allow people to be productive and creative rather than relentlessly bound to the employment relation. Work, she contends, is a legitimate, even crucial, subject for political theory.