The current moment of overlapping public health, social, economic, political, and environmental crises has shaken the world system. How we understand this moment and its relationship to short, medium, and long-term goals for transformative social change is more important than ever.
Job design is indeed important for understanding worker bargaining power and workplace-level inequality. It really matters how organizations assemble tasks into jobs. But, it is trickier than Braverman's classic theory implies. Less complex jobs are exposed to more competition. But jobs that are more unique within a workplace also accumulate leverage. The workplace division of labor affects bargaining power by reducing job complexity but increasing job turf. These effects typically impact different jobs, which drives workplace-based inequality.
On Sept 16, 2020, Kanye West opened up a conversation about the exploitive nature of record contracts. While Kanye is an imperfect messenger, he is the latest in a long line of recording artists who demonstrate the harmful effects of these contracts. My favorite example is the metaphor of recording artists as sharecroppers by Courtney Love because of the connection to medieval serfdom. In fact, my book Getting Signed: Record Contracts, Musicians, and Power in Society explores the way record contracts have similar effects to the British land enclosure acts that jump-started capitalism. In Capital Vol. I, Karl Marx described “primitive accumulation” as the process through which capitalism developed through the British land enclosure acts. The land enclosure acts created private property and kicked the serfs off the land, forcing them to work for capital. Similar to what Marx argued, record contracts create enclosure for musicians to foster the expropriation of their creative work to be sold on the market by record labels.
Capitalism only works because workers do not own the means of production, and therefore have to sell their labor-power to someone else in order to earn money to meet their needs. While the means […]
The growing concentration of value and knowledge in a few big corporations that became intellectual monopolies induced different forms of academic capitalism. I present three types of academic capitalist university – teaching institutions, subordinate research universities, and academic intellectual monopolies – and explore the consequences for knowledge as commons and for academic workers, all of which have worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic.