Work as promise for the subject of employability. Unpaid Work as New Form of Exploitation

Author/s Emanuele Leonardi, Ekaterina Chertkovskaya
Publishing Year 2017 Issue 2017/145
Language English Pages 19 P. 112-130 File size 128 KB
DOI 10.3280/SL2017-145007
DOI is like a bar code for intellectual property: to have more infomation click here

Below, you can see the article first page

If you want to buy this article in PDF format, you can do it, following the instructions to buy download credits

Article preview

FrancoAngeli is member of Publishers International Linking Association, Inc (PILA), a not-for-profit association which run the CrossRef service enabling links to and from online scholarly content.

The realm of work has been at the centre of neoliberal transformation of societies. Turning labour into human capital gave rise to imprinting - exploitation beyond the wage-form or beyond what Marx called the subsumption of labour under capital. Employability is key to this phenomenon. While it does not guarantee employment, life itself becomes a promise of employability. This promise perpetuates even without being actualised. This is achieved via ‘transferrable skills’, which serve as an ‘instrumentation’ of employability. Framing subjectivities within and beyond work, these skills provide a mechanism for both governing people and justifying exploitation. The empirical material of this paper analyses EXPO 2015 in Milan, a context where unpaid work as an exploitative practice beyond the wage-form was particularly evident.

Keywords: Imprinting, employability, promise, unpaid voluntary work, EXPO

  1. Butler N., Olaison L., Sliwa M., Sørensen B.M., Spoelstra S., eds. (2011). Work, Play and Boredom. ephemera, 11(4).
  2. Armano E., Chicchi F., Fisher E., Risi E., a cura di (2014). Confini e misure del lavoro emergente. Sociologia del lavoro, 133.
  3. Armano E., Murgia A. (2016). Introduzione. In: Id., Le reti del lavoro gratuito. Verona: Ombre Corte.
  4. Arthur M.B., Rousseau D.M. (2001). The Boundaryless Career: a New Employment Principle for a New Organizational Era. New York: Oxford University Press.
  5. Attewell P. (1990). What is skill? Work and Occupations, 17(4): 422-448. DOI: 10.1177/0730888490017004003
  6. Bascetta M. (2015). Economia della promessa. In: Id., Economia politica della promessa. Roma: Manifestolibri.
  7. Beverungen A., Otto B., Spoelstra S., Kenny K., eds. (2013). Free Work. ephemera, 13(1).
  8. Bloom P. (2013). Fight for Your Alienation: the Fantasy of Employability and the Ironic Struggle for Self-Exploitation. ephemera, 13(4): 785-807.
  9. Bologna S. (2016). Lavoro gratuito ed economia dell’evento. In: Armano R., Murgia A., a cura di, Le reti del lavoro gratuito. Verona: Ombre Corte.
  10. Boltanski L., Chiapello E. (2005/1999). The New Spirit of Capitalism. London: Verso.
  11. Borghi V., Chicchi F. (2007). Genealogie dell’employability. Appunti per una sociologia economica del lavoro. In: Laville J.L., La Rosa M. a cura di, La sociologia economica europea. Un percorso italo-francese. Milano: FrancoAngeli.
  12. Castel R. (2003). From Manual Workers to Wage Laborers. London: Transactions.
  13. Chertkovskaya E., Loacker B., eds. (2016). Work and consumption: Entangled. ephemera, 16(3): 1-20.
  14. Chertkovskaya E., Watt P., Tramer S., Spoelstra S. (2013). Giving Notice to Employability. ephemera, 13(4): 711-716.
  15. Chicchi F., Leonardi E., eds. (2011). Lavoro in frantumi. Verona: Ombre Corte.
  16. Chicchi F., Leonardi E., Lucarelli S. (2016). Logiche dello sfruttamento. Verona: Ombre Corte.
  17. Ciccarelli R. (2015). Expo Milano 2015: the Institutionalization of Working for Free in Italy. Triple C, 13(2): 423-427.
  18. Cremin C. (2010). Never Employable Enough: the (im)Possibility of Satisfying the Boss’s Desire. Organization, 17(2): 131-149. DOI: 10.1177/1350508409341112
  19. Dardot P., Laval C. (2014/2012). The New Way of the World. London: Verso.
  20. De Angelis G. (2016). Poste in Gioco. Lavoro e soggettivita tra formale e informale, gratuito e remunerato. Unpublished PhD Thesis. University of Bologna.
  21. Deleuze G., Guattari F. (1987). A Thousand Plateaux. Minneapolis: Minnesota University Press. EXPO (2013). Sustainability Report.
  22. Fejes A. (2010). Discourses on Employability: Constituting the Responsible Citizen. Studies in Continuing Education, 32(2): 89-102. DOI: 10.1080/0158037X.2010.488353
  23. Figiel J. (2013). Work Experience Without Qualities? a Documentary and Critical Account of an Internship. ephemera, 13(1): 33-52.
  24. Finn D. (2000). From Full Employment to Employability: a New Deal for Britain’s Unemployed? International Journal of Manpower, 21(5): 384-99. DOI: 10.1108/01437720010377693
  25. Foucault M. (2008/2004). Birth of Biopolitics. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  26. Fumagalli A. (2015). The Concept of Subsumption of Labour to Capital: Towards Life Subsumption in Bio-Cognitive Capitalism. In: Fuchs C., Fisher E., a cura di, Reconsidering Value and Labour in the Digital Age. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
  27. Fumagalli A., Lucarelli S. (2007). A Model of Cognitive Capitalism: a Preliminary Analysis. European Journal of Economic and Social Systems, 20(1): 117-133.
  28. Fumagalli A., Morini C. (2010). Life Put to Work: Towards a Life Theory of Value. ephemera, 10(3-4): 234-252.
  29. Giustiniano L., Brunetta F. (2015). Rethinking Employability: New Managerial Competencies in a Global Labour Market. Sociologia del lavoro, 137: 17-35. DOI: 10.3280/SL2015-137002
  30. Gordon J., Lenhard R.A. (2008). Rethinking Work and Citizenship. UCLA Law Review, 55: 1161-1238.
  31. Gorz A. (1999/1997). Reclaiming Work. Cambridge: Polity.
  32. Grey C. (1994). Career as a Project of the Self and Labour Process Discipline. Sociology, 28(2): 479-497. DOI: 10.1177/0038038594028002007
  33. Hillage J., Pollard E. (1998). Employability: Developing a Framework for Policy Analysis. Suffolk: Department for Education and Employment.
  34. Holmqvist M. (2009). The Disabling State of an Active Society. Farnham: Ashgate.
  35. Hope S., Figiel J. (2015). Interning and Investing: Rethinking Unpaid Work, Social Capital, and the ‘Human Capital Regime’. Triple C, 13(2): 361-374.
  36. Hyland T., Johnson S. (1998). Of Cabbages and Key Skills: Exploding the Mythology of Core Transferable Skills in Post-School Education. Journal of Further and Higher Education, 22(2): 163-172.
  37. 10.1080/0309877980220205.
  38. Jackson B. (2016). Neoliberalism, Labour and Trade Unionism. In: Springer S., Birch K., MacLeavy J., a cura di, The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge.
  39. Leonardi E. (2010). The Imprimatur of Capital. ephemera, 10(3-4): 253-266.
  40. Leonardi E., Secchi M. (2016). EXPO 2015 as Laboratory for Neoliberalization. Partecipazione e conflitto, 9(2): 567-595.
  41. MacLeavy J. (2016). Neoliberalism and Welfare: the Deepening of a Marketbased Approach to Social Policy in the Age of Austerity. In: Springer S., Birch K., MacLeavy J., a cura di, The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge.
  42. Marx K. (1976/1867). Capital: Volume 1. New York: Vintage Books.
  43. Mezzadra S. (2015). Nei cantieri marxiani. Roma: Manifestolibri.
  44. Moreau M.P., Leathwood C. (2006). Graduates Employment and the Discourse of Employability: a Critical Analysis. Journal of Education and Work, 19(4): 305-324. DOI: 10.1080/13639080600867083
  45. Muehlebach A. (2012). The Moral Neoliberal: Welfare and Citizenship in Italy. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.
  46. Murtola A.M., Fleming P., eds. (2011). The Business of Truth: Authenticity, Capitalism and the Crisis of Everyday Life. ephemera, 11(1).
  47. Nik-Khah E., Van Horn R. (2016). The Ascendancy of Chicago Neoliberalism. In: Springer S., Birch K., MacLeavy J., a cura di, The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge.
  48. Payne J. (2000). The Unbearable Lightness of Skill: the Changing Meaning of Skill in UK Policy Discourses and Some Implications for Education and Training. Journal of Education Policy, 15(3): 353-369. DOI: 10.1080/02680930050030473
  49. Peck J., Theodore N. (2000). Beyond employability. Cambridge Journal of Economics, 24: 729-749.
  50. Pellegrino V. (2016). Lavoro cognitivo, passioni, precarietà. Per una ‘resistenza relazionale’ alle forme di cattura del sistema produttivo. In: Id., R/esistenze precarie. Verona: Ombre Corte.
  51. Piketty T. (2014). Capital in the Twenty-first Century. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  52. Ross A. (2014). Lavorare per nulla.
  53. Salmieri L. (2016). Le professioni di fede della trasformazione urbana: promuovere il territorio e attrarre i capitali. In: Armano E., Murgia A., a cura di, Le reti del lavoro gratuito. Verona: Ombre Corte.
  54. Springer S., Birch K., MacLeavy J. (2016). An Introduction to Neoliberalism. In: Id., The Handbook of Neoliberalism. New York: Routledge.
  55. Standing G. (2011). The precariat: The new dangerous class. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
  56. Supiot A. (2015). La gouvernance par le nombres. Paris: Fayard.
  57. Vitale D. (2015). “Le nuove frontiere del lavoro gratuito”. Conference paper, Le promesse del capitale. Venice 4/5/2015.

  • Uber in the Portuguese gig economy: a laboratory for platform capitalism Emanuele Leonardi, Giorgio Pirina, in Work Organisation, Labour & Globalisation /2020
    DOI: 10.13169/workorgalaboglob.14.2.0046
  • Between a Promise and a Salary: Student-Migrant-Workers’ Experiences of Precarious Labour Markets Olivia Maury, in Work, Employment and Society /2020 pp.809
    DOI: 10.1177/0950017019887097
  • The Palgrave Handbook of Environmental Labour Studies Anna Saave, Barbara Muraca, pp.743 (ISBN:978-3-030-71908-1)
  • A Quest for Passion: Understanding Precarious Migration of Young Highly Qualified EU Citizens as Lived Neoliberal Subjectivity Anna Simola, in Sociology /2022 pp.621
    DOI: 10.1177/00380385211051224
  • An Empirical Study on the Improvement of College Students’ Employability Based on University Factors Yi-Cheng Zhang, Yang Zhang, Xue-li Xiong, Jia-Bao Liu, Rong-Bing Zhai, in Frontiers in Psychology 793492/2022
    DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2022.793492

Emanuele Leonardi, Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Work as promise for the subject of employability. Unpaid Work as New Form of Exploitation in "SOCIOLOGIA DEL LAVORO " 145/2017, pp 112-130, DOI: 10.3280/SL2017-145007