Work, recognition and subjectivity. Relocating the connection between work and social pathologies

European Journal of Social Theory 19 (3):340-354 (2016)
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Abstract
Recently, following the social and subjective consequences of the neoliberal wave, there seems to be a renewed interest in work as occupying a central place in social and subjective life. For the first time in decades, both sociologists and critical theorists once more again regard work as a major constituent of the subject’s identity and thus as an appropriate object of analysis for those engaged in critique of the social pathologies. The aim of this article is to present a succinct analysis of Axel Honneth’s thoughts on the concept of work and to propose an approach granting it a more substantial role in social theory. To this end, this article will embark upon a reappraisal of the importance of the material and psychological dimensions of the subject’s interactions in the world of work. It aims to demonstrate that the normative demands associated with these dimensions are, like the normative demands of recognition, immanent and universal. In other words, it will argue that the normative ideals related to individuals’ bodily and psychic life (in the workplace and beyond) are not necessarily utopian in the negative sense (abstract and unrealistic). If this is indeed the case, theorists could take these normative demands for emancipation as a guide to analyzing the sociological, political and moral implications of the transition from the ‘Fordist’ to the ‘post-Fordist’ organization of labor.
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First archival date: 2017-12-28
Latest version: 2 (2018-01-03)
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