Unpaid Work, Coercion and the Fear Economy
AbstractUnpaid work, as a sociological construct, initially emerged in relation to reproductive labour and, in particular, women’s unpaid household work. However, unpaid work, in the sense of socially required and routinized labour that is normatively not compensated in terms of monetary and other tangible mechanisms of exchange, has mushroomed in the context of the grim economy. Here, the authors locate unpaid work historically by considering the direct physical force that underlies slavery and work within total institutions, and then analyze the contemporary subtle, indirect pressures exercised by hegemonic ideologies to sustain unpaid internships and unremunerated working days. Secondly, we argue that unpaid work is expanding in the current historical/economic context. Finally, we propose that shifts in the nature of the capitalist economy and the evolution of the so-called ‘fear’ economy along with the related expansion of the neoliberal state should be seen as key factors precipitating the growth in unpaid work and, therefore, a dramatic intensification of patterns of exploitation.
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