Proposal Paper for the 21 century : Work, Employment, and Activity
This Proposal Paper is a summary of the work resulting from the electronic forum of the « Work, Employment » workshop, the Summary Congress, carried out in Florianopolis/Brazil, from April 27 to 29, 2001, and the Congress of the 15 WSSE workshops, in Findhorn, Scotland, from June 9 to 15, 2001. The document deals with transformations in the world of work as well as with trade unions, related to the problem of urban management. The text is followed by a questionnaire.
We are experiencing an extensive social transformation which is characterized by its civilizing nature. One of the main components of this « civilizing mutation » is the current technological and organizational revolution, which directly affects the many forms of production. Profound and accelerated changes are taking place which, on the one hand, reinforce and broaden the power of the capitalist logic, but on the other hand, get to the bottom of serious obstacles making new contradictions emerge that, paradoxically, favor transcendence of the same modern-industrial-urban way of life. There is no uniform direction, although there are many trends, some of which are contradictory. However, capitalism has without any doubt dominated the third technological revolution (even though the seeds of other modes of life have also been sown there). Within this complex civilizing transition, the world of work is confused in a chaotic mess of frenetic transformations. In a reality where « everything solid is falling apart, » where the concept of work itself is undergoing great changes, where it is becoming difficult to characterize even the weakened working class, what can be distinguished? What can be affirmed? Even though it is possible to identify common structural lines, they unevenly affect a heterogeneous capitalist social formation, in which different modes of production have always coexisted, synthesized in different historical rhythms. Thus, it is important to perceive various differentiated and combined « worlds of work. »