On autonomy and the technological abolition of academic labour
As the global higher education sector is re-engineered through real subsumption inside the logic of competition, academic labour is increasingly proletarianised through the desperate search for relative surplus value. As a result, universities become more capital-intensive, by investing in technology and organisational development However, as more constant capital or means of production are set in motion by an individual labourer, there is a pressure to economise on labour-power or to discover new markets. The conditioning of academic labour through precariousness, performance management and so on amplify overwork, self-exploitation, ill-health and ill-being. However, just as capital drives towards the technological abolition of academic labour, it also depends completely upon that labour for its own reproduction and survival. This is a crucial moment of weakness for capital, and resistance depends upon a movement beyond the fetishisation of such labour to explore the possibilities that exist beyond the binary of employment/unemployment. This chapter argues for struggles for the abolition of academic labour through moments of solidarity with other communities seeking to reconstitute their own lived experiences on post-capitalist terms. A critical issue is how to uncover and reproduce co-operative practices across the fabric of society, in order to widen collective spheres of autonomy.
Citation:Hall, R. (2019) On autonomy and the technological abolition of academic labour. In: Education and Technological Unemployment, eds. M.A. Peters, P. Jandrić, and A.J. Means. Singapore: Springer.