Labour beyond the factory
Emily van der Meulen: Reframing Sex Work as Sexual and Emotional Labour / Mislav Žitko: The University and the Class Structure: A Reexamination / Ferruccio Gambino: Migration and Labour Turnover
Reframing Sex Work as Sexual and Emotional Labourby Emily van der Meulen
In 1844 Marx analogized prostitution to labour by writing, ‘prostitution is only a specific expression of the general prostitution of the labourer’ (emphasis in original). While he saw prostitution, along with other forms of labour, as inherently problematic, his analogy has been important in the advancement of conceptualizations of sex work away from exploitation and violence and towards labour and work. In order to politically and theoretically frame sex work as a form of sexual and emotional labour, this paper will draw on the work of key feminist theorists Arlie Hochschild (1983), Wendy Chapkis (1997), and Teela Sanders (2005), among others.
Hochschild’s early work develops the concept of emotional labour. While she focuses specifically on the labour-related experiences of flight attendants, much of her analysis can be, and has been, applied to the context of sex work. One of the main negative consequences and human costs associated with emotional labour is the high risk of burnout. As such, she advocates for a separation of a ‘work self’ from a ‘private self’ in order to maintain a healthy work/life balance; a strategy that many sex workers similarly employ. Chapkis applies Hochschild’s concept of emotional labour to the organization of work in the sex industry. She contends that strategies of ‘boundary maintenance’ that include summoning and containing emotion can be an effective tool for interactions with clients. Chapkis further draws on Hochschild, who was drawing on Marx’s theories of worker alienation, to argue that if sex workers were afforded greater control over their workplace conditions, they may experience greater workplace satisfaction. Building on both Hochschild and Chapkis, Sanders argues that sex workers purposefully differentiate their workplace sexuality, identity, and emotions from other areas and aspects of their lives. Sanders demonstrates that there are a diversity of ‘emotional management’ techniques and strategies employed by sex workers in order to distinguish their work self from their private self as well as to increase their financial rewards and saleability.
Indeed, emotional management techniques, manufactured identities, and the separation of work life from personal life are strategies used by workers who perform emotional labour; sex workers are no more or less implicated than other labourers. This paper conceptualizes sex work as a job that frequently requires physical and emotional work and can be viable, flexible, and oftentimes, well paying. Sex work is not presented here as an identity marker or psychological characteristic but instead, as a particular form of labour for a multiplicity of individuals in a multiplicity of sex industry jobs.
The University and the Class Structure: A Reexaminationby Mislav Žitko
In this paper we will take the notion of the cognitariat as an entry point for the analysis of current struggles against the commodification of education in Croatia. This notion came out of the recent debate on cognitive capitalism, and it roughly refers to a class of intellectual workers whose knowledge cannot be, and perhaps doesn't even need to be, directly subsumed under the process of capitalist production. Although we welcome the effort to open the difficult question of the morphology of the contemporary working class and overall class structure, we will argue that the notion of the cognitariat is limited at best. If there is any lesson to be drawn from the struggles in Croatia, it is that neoliberal policies can be challenged without the prior formation of a political subject that would function as a mirror image of the traditional working class. Through the employment of direct democracy as a decision making vehicle the field of struggle can be made properly inclusive, so that the force and the effects of political pratice are not by any means determined in advance. Indeed, as the protests in Croatia went on, it became clear that inclusivness set as a central point of collective action is a first step towards the recovery of the notion of public interest, whose abolishment was one of the primary objectives of neoliberal discourse. Therefore, although some empirical validity can be ascribed to the notion of the cognitariat, its explanatory power remains, as we will argue, undefined and its usefulness as part of emancipatory strategies undermined by its inability to perform in a way that would render any effects beyond academic debate. It is essential for the left whatever form or shape it takes, especially in eastern Europe where neoliberal restructuring is still an ongoing process, to be able to engage and enter into any set of issues put forward by the current capitalist configuration. This calls for the assessment of some key analytical categories beyond the dominant division of (intellectual) labor as an initial procedure in the appropriation of the public sphere.
Migration and Labour Turnoverby Ferruccio Gambino
The relation between labour turnover and migrations has not been studied systematically in recent times. This paper tries to give an outline of labour turnover both under slavery and under the wage regime. The refusal of forced paces of work constitutes a continuum of working class strategy that appears as on the surface in the guise of labour turnover. Collective action stands as a primary barrier against capitalist aggression of both labour power and more generally of the sphere of life.