Quantified Precarity by Phoebe Moore

This contribution by Dr. Phoebe Moore is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

An unstable matrix emerges with the rise of exploitative work contracts, digitalised management interfaces, and intensified tracking capacities which negatively impact working conditions and provide an attempted means to capture and control the totality of life and work in conditions of precarity. New technologies offer the possibility to measure emotional and affective labour, including variable moods and subjectivities, reactions to situations, tone of voice, gestures and other movements that are seen to reflect people’s emotional states and affect as well, as I argue in the book. The measurement tools for all-of-life, in workplaces come in the same packages as health and fitness as well as productivity tracking devices.

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Frank by Alina Lupu

This contribution by Alina Lupu is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

I fell in love with Frank overnight. It was easy.

Our food delivery bike courier group has a common means of communication: an instant message exchange channel. It’s the perfect substitute for presence. I’ve only ever met three of my supervisors in person: during my onboarding, and during the last 5 months we’ve relied solely on out of person messaging instead. This common channel is perverted to the core by a constant stream of irony, self-deprecation, bouts of rage and the occasional mention of schedule sign-up reminders, city-wide alerts and policy changes; it’s also always available. This is where I learned about Frank, it was from some of my colleagues, but even before that I had the comforting feeling that he was there.

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Tough Shift by Max Dovey

This contribution by Max Dovey is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

This summer I decided to take my Deliveroo uniform to deceive festival-goers into believing that they could get food delivered to their tents. Deliveroo’s ‘Ride with us’ page states that you can ‘work around your life with flexible hours’[1], so as long as I have my phone charged and my jacket I figured I could turn some of my free time into earning a few extra drops. Uncertain whether I was on shift or in fancy dress, curious festival goers would either ask me when their pizza would arrive or if they could order meals from the festival food stands. I spent the weekend walking round Glastonbury festival in my uniform, repeating a joke that immediately became old, endorsing an idea that has yet to be sold. Reactions took a familiar turn, a common emotional response reminiscent of most disruptive start-up ventures, one that begins in shock and ends in demand –

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“Subjectivity in the ‘Gig Economy’: From the Entreprecariat to Base Union Militancy” by Jamie Woodcock

This contribution by Jamie Woodcock is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

Contemporary work has been transformed. This can be seen most sharply with the rise of the so-called “gig economy”, which involves workers tying together of different forms of short term and unreliable work in order to make ends meet. Instead of long-term (or even reasonably short-term) work contracts, contemporary employment is becoming more precarious and increasingly mediated in a digital context. These kinds of arrangements are facilitating the rise of the Entreprecariat, which ‘refers to the reciprocal influence of an entrepreneurialist regime and pervasive precarity.’[1] The entrepreneurialist regime is an ideological construction that promises freedom – often pitched as flexibility – achieved through sheer willpower and hard work. It builds upon the idea of Homo Economicus – that people are rational and self-interested agents who will seek to maximise their own utility and profit. It is an attempt to convince workers that their own conditions are not due to the structure of society, but solely down to their own agency. Take, for example, a recent advert from Fiverr – the ‘Freelance Services Marketplace for The Lean Entrepreneur’[2] – featured a portrait of a gaunt and tired-looking worker with the following text:

You eat a coffee for lunch.
You follow through on
your follow through. Sleep
deprivation is your drug of
choice. You might be a doer.

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That’s a Good Idea by Melissa Mesku

This contribution by Melissa Mesku is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

Here’s a drinking game: every time you hear someone say “there should be an app for that,” take a drink. Not drunk enough yet? Then ask someone, anyone, whether they have an idea for an app. You’re pretty much guaranteed to get a good idea out of them. But that’s not the drinking game. That’s just the set up. The game starts after you have all these good ideas swirling around in your head. Then you sit at the bar and wonder whether you’re going to finally do something with all these good ideas until you get too drunk and morose to go on. That’s the game. I didn’t say it was a good game, but it is pretty popular. You can even play it with friends. If it were an app it’d be number one on Google Play.

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Linkedin Society on Modes of Criticism 3

Modes of Criticism 3, a beautiful publication edited by Francisco Laranjo on design and criticism, is out. This issue, dedicated to the relationships between design and democracy and published by Onomatopee, includes an essay of mine on the competitive aesthetics of Linkedin’s previous user experience, which became history when the site was redesigned to align with the convivial regime of dominant platform like Facebook and Google. Here’s an introduction to the piece.

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Invention Matrix III. Grand Motor Roller Coaster by Olivier Fournout (translation by Ian Monk)

This contribution by Olivier Fournout and translated by Ian Monk is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

To gather material about the future of work, the members of Futur Lab, a think tank charged with imagining the world of 2050, attend symposiums, read books and articles, consult web pages, then smooth them out into a discourse. They recycle them into a documentary slam, an inner monologue, a Flarf poetry file. It can be seen as a collage of fragments of reality. It extracts phrases from different media, producing a diatext of ideas that have been received, read or heard in the public space. It filters out a sample of the world’s prose.

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Programmers Wannabe by eeefff

This contribution by eeefff is part of the special issue of the Pervasive Labour Union zine on the Entreprecariat. Read it here and download it for free as PDF or EPUB.

Minsk. We are late for our “labour inspection” in one of the biggest IT companies in Belarus.
Trying to catch a taxi.

“To Wargaming? For the first time? I go there every day. Near the subway there is a honey hole. Just drove up and again someone goes there… Tell me, becoming a programmer at 40 is probably hopeless, right? In general, are there 40 years old programmers? Or are they all becoming startuppers at 33?” he says while we are forcing our way through traffic jams.

“In general, I think that Belarus is a country of people who would like to become programmers. As one friend of mine says ‘We are all programmers Wannabe’,” he laughs.

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