The idea of immaterial labour comes to be theorised as a result of the changes in the mode of capitalist production identified as post-Fordism. The Italian tradition of operaismo links the notion of immaterial labour to the move from Fordist to lean production (or Toyotism), where prior to being manufactured, a product must be sold. More specifically defined, immaterial labour refers to two different aspects of labour. According to Lazzarato:

1. “as regards the ‘informational content’ of the commodity, it refers directly to the changes taking place in workers’ labour processes in big companies in the industrial and tertiary sectors, where the skills involved in direct labour are increasingly skills involving cybernetics and computer control (and horizontal and vertical communication).”

2.”As regards the activity that produces the ‘cultural content’ of the commodity, immaterial labour involves a series of activities that are not normally recognised as ‘work’ – in other words, the kinds of activities involved in defining and fixing cultural and artistic standards, fashions, tastes, consumer norms, and more strategically, public opinion.

The idea that immaterial labour directly produces the capital relation,–something that material labour hiddenly did–changes the phenomenology of capital. Immaterial workers are primarily producers of subjectivity.

“If production today is directly the production of a social relation, then the ‘raw material’ of immaterial labour is subjectivity and the ‘ideological’ environment in which subjectivity lives and reproduces. The production of subjectivity ceases to be only an instrument of social control (for the production of mercantile relationships) and becomes directly productive, because the goal of our post industrial society is to construct the consumer/communicator – and to construct it as ‘active’. Immaterial workers (those who work in advertising, fashion, marketing, television, cybernetics, and so forth) satisfy a demand by the consumer and at the same time establish that demand.” (M. Lazzarato)
ImmaterialLabour – Maurizio Lazzarato

Labour and Language – Paolo Virno

Rules for the incommensurable – Christian Marazzi

General Intellect – Paolo Virno

Immaterial civil war – Matteo Pasquinelli

Report on the 2006 conference on immaterial labour and interview with A. Fumagalli – Emiliana Armano (it)

Programming immaterial labour – Stefano Harney
Affective Labour – Michael Hardt

Reality check: are we living in an immaterial world? – Steve Wright

The problematic aura of immaterial labour – Erik Asell
Of immaterial products, or values consumed at the moment of production [Book I, Ch. XIII of A Treatise on Political Economy]- Jean-Baptiste Say

General Intellect: towards an inquiry into immaterial labour – Maurizio Lazzarato

A critique of the Fordism of the Regulation School – Ferruccio Gambino

European cultural tradition and the new forms of production and circulation of knowledge – Maurizio Lazzarato

Research and Finance – Christian Marazzi (fr)

The construction of the cultural labour market – Maurizio Lazzarato

A note on intellectual labour – Pier Paolo Frassinelli

Erik’s notes on Intellectual and Manual Labour

Scientific Production:

Interpreting the production of science: (Introductory article on different perspectives within social analysis on the production of scientific knowledge)



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