Emancipation from work or emancipation through work? Aesthetics of work and idleness in recent French thought

Lane, Jeremy F. (2016) Emancipation from work or emancipation through work? Aesthetics of work and idleness in recent French thought. Nottingham French Studies, 55 (1). pp. 79-95. ISSN 2047-7236

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In Le Capitalisme cognitif (2007), Yann Moulier Boutang argues that, under Post-Fordism, workers are expected to invest ever more of their creative, affective, and cognitive powers in their labours. These eminently human qualities, he maintains, are inherently resistant to capture and exploitation by capitalism. Hence, their integration into the capitalist system risks provoking that system’s downfall, heralding the emergence of an Aesthetic State in which work itself will be modelled on disinterested creative activity and genuine emancipation will follow. Moulier Boutang is a leading representative of the French brand of néo-opéraïste thought and his work typifies the manner in which néo-operaïstes understand the relationships between work, aesthetics, and political emancipation. This is an understanding that stands in stark contrast to the work of Jacques Rancière. For Rancière, emancipation can only come through an escape from work, in moments of idleness that are prefigured in the disinterested nature of aesthetic experience. This article will examine the nature and stakes of this striking contrast between Moulier Boutang’s ‘aesthetics of work’ and Rancière’s ‘aesthetics of idleness’, between the former’s belief in the possibility of emancipation through work and the latter’s focus on the possibilities of emancipation from work.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: The article has been accepted for publication by Edinburgh University Press. Published version: http://www.euppublishing.com/doi/pdfplus/10.3366/nfs.2016.0140
Keywords: neo-operaism, Jacques Rancière, aesthetics, idleness, Maurizio Lazzarato, Friedrich Schiller
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham UK Campus > Faculty of Arts > School of Cultures, Languages and Area Studies > Department of French and Francophone Studies
Identification Number: https://doi.org/10.3366/nfs.2016.0140
Depositing User: Lane, Jeremy
Date Deposited: 10 Jun 2016 15:09
Last Modified: 13 Sep 2016 17:55
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/33920

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