Work, knowledge and power in contemporary capitalism | Praca, wiedza i władza we współczesnym kapitalizmie





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Scientific Board

Rada Naukowa

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Call for Papers 2018

We would like to invite you to take part in the fourth edition of international scientific conference ‘Social boundaries of work’, entitled ‘Work, knowledge and power in contemporary capitalism’, which will take place on October 25th-26th, 2018 in Gdansk (Poland).

The event is organized by the Sociology of Work Section of the Polish Sociological Association – the initiator and the main subject running the three previous editions of the conference.

The concept of ‘Social Boundaries of Work’ conference was initiated in 2014 and has obtained international  acknowledgement. Conference is based on a continuous discussion on the meaning and social boundaries of human work. It aims at expanding field of theoretical and practical reflection on the importance of work in the context of local, national and global changes in the economic, political, social and cultural dimensions. The conference’s goal is multi-paradigm debate that takes into account multiple theoretical traditions and a wide spectrum of methodologically diverse empirical research.

The fourth edition of the conference will focus on the issues of power and knowledge, as well as their embedding in the problems of work. In particular, we will be interested in those aspects of labour relations that take place in the context of broadly defined debates over the modern knowledge-based economy. The questions we want to ask include, among others:

  • What is the role of knowledge in economic and social processes in the workplace?
  • What types of knowledge play a key role in labour process?
  • How does the work that produces and operates knowledge work?
  • Is the division between mental and manual work correct and valid?
  • What rules runs knowledge – understood as an economic resource – in informal structures of work taking place outside market relations?
  • Whether and to what extent knowledge is an autonomous source of new economic and social value?
  • What are the relationships between traditionally understood employment and other activities such as prosumption, activity of producers or information distributors (e.g. in p2p networks)?
  • Can knowledge become an object of ownership only as a result of Intellectual Property Rights?
  • What is the relationship between knowledge and authority in the context of labour processes?
  • How does the relations of power on the line of the owner – wage worker shape in the new constellations?
  • Do the new ways of providing and organizing work blur the boundary between work and leisure? If so, how?
  • What is the role of destandarization of time and place of work in labour relations?
  • What role do automatons and machines play in modern labour relations (e.g. in the context of what Germans call Industry 4.0)?
  • How does the digital economy affect class-related, gender and racial relationships?
  • What is the future of labour processes, power relations and working time?

We will focus therefore on the knowledge-based work, generating knowledge and operating knowledge entangled in different contexts of relations of domination and power. The issues discussed in this way allow to go beyond the perspective of the highly industrialized countries, and beyond the point of view of officially employed and paid employees. Contemporary studies on reproductive work, emotional components of work, microwork provided via the Internet, global supply chains and utilization or hidden economy allow to connect these threads with broader gender, racial, ethnic and class contexts.

The goals of the conference are:

1.     To reflect on work in the context of various types of available employment, with particular emphasis on the fragmentation of working time, emerging, for example, through the intermediation of digital platforms.

2.       To discuss the technological problem of unemployment, the appearance of home production in the form of 3D printing, the growing importance of the work of mathematical algorithms and robots and their expected social consequences.

3.     To link the problems of digitization of work (and the economy in general) with the broader social context by means of searching for general social consequences of atomization, fragmentation and work destandarization.

4.     To develop the discussion over the definition of work and typologies of work. In this edition, the problem of the usefulness of the division into mental and manual work (whether intellectual and manual), material and non-material aspect of work, production and non-productive work, visible and invisible work as well as formal and informal work occupy a special place.

5.     To advance the reflection on the role of sociology of work in contemporary society taken during the previous edition of the conference, with particular emphasis on shaping labour relations in a technologically advanced economy.

6.     To develop further the practical dimension of the public presence of the sociology of work in the form of the continuation of the cycle ‘Work and social dialogue in Poland’ initiated in Katowice.

The conference language is primarily English. Selected panels may take place in Polish as well.

SBW – Katowice 2017

3rd International Conference

Guy Standing in the keynot lecture during the first edition of the SBW