primarily by Maurizio Lazzarato, Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri – succeed, to a certain extent .. Lazzarato, M. () ‘Immaterial Labor’, trans. P. Colilli and. Much of the work performed today is immaterial labor and it involves new power relations in which NOTE: Lazzarato is not describing digital. At the simplest level of definition, Lazzarato claims that immaterial labor is “labor that produces the informational and cultural content of the.

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It is worth lazzarqto that in this kind of working existence it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish leisure time from work time. Industry’s control over this new labor power presupposes the independent organization and “free entrepreneurial activity” of the labor power.

The process of social communication and its principal content, the production of subjectivity becomes here directly productive because in a certain way it “produces” production.

Immaterial labor – Wikipedia

Second, if it is no longer possible to lay down and specify jobs and responsibilities rigidly in the way that was once done with “scientific” studies of workbut if, lzzzarato the contrary, jobs now require cooperation and collective coordination, then the subjects of immayerial production must be capable of communication – they must be active participants within a work team.

What the transformation of the product into a commodity cannot remove, then, is the character of event, the open process of creation that is established between immaterial labor ikmaterial the public and organized by communication. Now, rather than speaking of the toppling of “supply and demand,” we should speak about a redefinition of the production-consumption relationship.

It is not simply that intellectual labor has become subjected to the norms of capitalist production. On the contrary, it opens up antagonisms and contradictions that, to use once again a Marxist formula, demand at least a “new form of exposition.

Immaterial Labor

This industrial context provides a first sense in which communication and information have come to play a newly central role in production. This is where we can realize the enormous potential in affective labor. The communicational relationship both vertically and horizontally is thus completely predetermined in both form and content; it is subordinated to the “circulation of information” and is not expected to be anything immateral.

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Immaterial Labour Overheads

The increasingly extensive use of computers has tended progressively to redefine laboring practices and relations along with indeed all social practices and relations. The Autonomy of the Productive Synergies of Immaterial Labor My working hypothesis, then, is that the cycle of immaterial labor takes as its starting point a social labor power that is independent and able to organize both its own work and its relations with business entities.


Postindustrial enterprises “are founded on the manipulation of information. In today’s large restructured company, a worker’s work increasingly involves, at various levels, an ability to choose among different alternatives and thus a degree of responsibility regarding decision making.

Health services, for example, rely centrally on caring and affective labor, and the entertainment industry and the various culture industries are likewise focussed on the creation and manipulation of affects. Toyotism is based on an inversion of the Fordist structure of communication between production and consumption. Much of the work performed today is immaterial labor and it involves new power relations in which workers, who are free, use their mental skills and personalities to produce information commodities.

The problem, however, of subjectivity and its collective form, its constitution and its development, has immediately expressed itself as a clash between social classes within the organization of work.

The new phenomenologies of labor, the new dimensions of organization, communication, the potentiality of spontaneous synergies, the autonomy of the subjects involved, and the independence of the networks were neither foreseen nor foreseeable by a general theory that believed that material labor and an industrial economy were indispensable.

Because audience reception, a creative act in its own right, becomes part of the product, companies must struggle to control and subordinate that creative response ,5.

Secondly, companies find themselves under pressure to conform to public values as they creatively respond. A first aspect of this transformation is recognized by many in terms of the change in factory labor—using the auto industry as a central point of reference—from the Fordist model to the Toyotist model.

Lazzarato also notes that “in this kind of working existence it becomes increasingly difficult to distinguish leisure time from work time In this phase, workers are expected to become “active subjects” in the coordination of the various functions of production, instead of being subjected to it as simple command.

Simmel, in effect, explains the function of “fashion” by means of the phenomenon of imitation or distinction as regulated and commanded by class lazzaarato. In an earlier era workers learned how to act like machines both inside and outside the factory. Lazzarato argues that this model “threatens to be even more totalitarian than the earlier rigid divisions betwene mental and manual labor University of Minnesota Press.

We are witnessing today not really a growth of services, but rather a development of the “relations of service. At a deeper level, this model accepts the ommaterial of labor founded on the opposition between manual and intellectual labor that has as its end the regulation and “mystification” of the social process of creation and innovation.


This second face of immaterial labor, its affective face, extends beyond the model of intelligence and communication defined lazzarao the computer. Immaterial labor finds itself at the crossroads or rather, it is the interface of a new relationship between production and consumption.

Here we are at the furthest point from the Taylorist model. What modern management techniques are looking for is for “the worker’s soul to become part of the factory. Post-colonial feminist writer Lisa Nakamura, and lszzarato have described immaterial labor in the performance of online identity, and racial identity and identity performance, or “avatarization of the self”.

The change in this relationship between production and consumption has direct consequences for the organization of the Taylorist labor of production of services, because it draws into question both the contents of labor and the division of labor and thus the relationship between conception and execution loses its unilateral character.

Both the creative and the social elements of this production encourage me to venture the use of the – “aesthetic model. If production today is directly the production of a social relation, then the “raw material” of immaterial labor is subjectivity and the “ideological” environment in which this subjectivity lives and reproduces.

Lazzarato starts with post-fordism, where workers have greater agency and responsibility, who is an “interface Even the most rudimentary forms of artificial intelligence allow the computer to expand and perfect its operation based on interaction with its user and its environment. In fact, the work on “aesthetic production” of Bakhtin and the rest of the Leningrad Circle has this same social focus. If this model had some probability of corresponding to the dynamics of the market of immaterial labor at the moment of the birth of mass consumption whose effects Simmel very intelligently anticipatesit could not be utilized to account for the relationship between immaterial labor and consumer-public in postindustrial society.

Services If from industry proper we move on to the “services” sector large banking services, insurance, and so forththe characteristics of the process I have described appear even more clearly.

These ideological products are completely internal lazzraato the processes of the formation of social communication; that is, they are at once the results and the prerequisites of these processes. Furthermore, when cultural products are “consumed” they are not destroyed, but in fact “enlarges, transforms, and creates the ‘ideological’ and cultural environment of the consumer”, transforming the person who uses the products8.

Last modified: April 30, 2020