“During a busy day I don’t get much done”. On the materiality of immaterial labour in a multinational professional services firm
Abstract“During a busy day I don’t get much done” In this quote from a client consultant condenses the dilemma discussed in this paper: what officially counts as creditable, “real work” rarely corresponds to the daily lived praxis in the office. The case study is based on my ethnographic research in a professional services firm and shows how the organisational understanding of what is recognised as work focuses on ascertainable deliverables such as presentations or spreadsheet reports. The lived praxis at the offices, however, is coined by relational and affective work (Hardt 1999) – paradoxically even more in situations of pressing delivery deadlines. The paper discusses these two conflictive perceptions of work/non-work in the (claiming to be) post-Fordist field of “immaterial” labour (Lazzarato 1996) and questions the proclaimed change towards an immaterial quality of labour of the “informational economy” (Hardt and Negri 2000).
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