Free Time Work (No Stop Free Time Work). The Blurred Boundaries Between Work and Free Time (Leisure)

by Yorgos Tzirtzilakis

In late capitalism, the production of life forms and what many are calling biopolitical production, are replacing the work activities and industrial production, resulting in the unprecedented diffusion of working time through the duration of the day and the annulment of the distinction between work and free time (which decisively affects all of our lives). So, side by side with the overproduction of material goods and the supremacy of the weightless immaterial credit sector, there emerge a series of “minor” social, economic and environmental dynamics that mark the end of the Fordian work regime. At their base, these are a series of evolving practices, not always definitive in form, that remain “invisible” in the margin of the conventional social, cultural and political systems of representation.

In the past, the workspaces have been the architectural prototype for the industrial production. Like the Fordist factory, it is built on Taylorist principles of industrial spatial organization. Yet while the city has been transformed throughout the last few decades by the restructuring forces of Post-fordism, what has happened to the workspaces? Anticipating the further decline of those constitutive oppositions the work activities sort has been built upon (city versus nature, work versus free time (leisure), mind versus body) – thus anticipating that workspace will become ever more relevant in our urban life -like as a no stop activity- the research poses the question as how to rethink work activities a problem of the Post-fordist city.

If one had to be more specific, the proliferation should be mentioned of alternative lifestyles, the designing of experiences[1] (rather than objects), the dissemination of ecological and non-governmental or independent organizations, volunteerism, contemporary philanthropy, the ‘new age’, ‘positive externality’, creative classes[2], creative cities, an idealized but also ill-defined participatory culture, the practice of endless discursive prevarications, the bloggers’ culture. It might be that a few years ago we thought some of these practices to possess an alternative, even anti-capitalist character; today, however, they are components of the Post-Fordist diffusion of the ephemeral and assimilated into the current rhetoric and the managerial model of the modern “microphysics” of power.

There are some who will find this assertion displeasing. But, since meta-Fordian capitalism is based on the production of life-forms and ground, territory what we designate by punk-aesthetic, alternative counter-culture, interest in graffiti, artistic mode of production even some versions of ecology, including guerilla gardening, belongs to the “formal” economy’s tactic of reappropriation, and therefore to the agenda of the professionals, the technocrats and the politicians. The famous governance is nothing but a way to ascribe value to these social practices, while certain forms of environmentalism are rising up as contemporary platforms of consensus and management of social conflicts and of the extensive urban transformations which are in progress.

[1] See Joseph Pine II, James H. Gilmore, The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage, Boston Massachusetts, 1999.

[2] Richard Florida, The Rise of the Creative Class and How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life, New York 2002. and Who's Your City? How the Creative Economy Is Making Where to Live the Most Important Decision of Your Life, New York 2008.

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