Max Weber's The Protestant Ethic famously seeks out what he terms a "spirit of capitalism" in the development of "duty in a calling." For Weber, the peculiarly unfulfilling experience of living to work rather than working to live could not become a "way of life" solely by brute force. Instead, he contends, an emergent capitalism required a compelling "psychological motive" to wrestle us into quiescent acceptance of our lot, a motive force he claims capitalism found in Protestant theology and practice.1 "Capitalism at the time of its development needed laborers who were available for economic exploitation for conscience," he argues. Only the promise of a richly compelling psychological and spiritual reward would persuade individuals to commit to tireless, endless, and often meaningless labor. By the twentieth century, Weber writes, "the impersonality" and "joyless lack of meaning" inherent in work was fully "in the saddle" and hence needed no such "transcendental sanction."2

For Marx, of course, the idea that workers willingly "adapt themselves to the discipline of their new condition" is a fiction: in fact, he argues, the "silent compulsion of economic relations sets the seal on the domination ... of the worker."3 This compulsory force operates primarily through the wage relation. Wages first "save" the dispossessed from an imposed starvation and later, in the absence of other means of self-reproduction, yoke them to a system of capitalist labor in perpetuity.4 Yet for Marx, too indeed in the very same paragraph from which the lines above are taken "The advance of capitalist production develops a working class which by education, tradition, and habit looks upon the requirements of that mode of production as self-evident natural laws."5 In other words, for Marx habits and beliefs don't inculcate a non-coercive ideal of vocation, but they do ensure that the immediate necessity of working for a wage seems both natural and inevitable.

More recent Weber-inspired scholarship like Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello's monumental The New Spirit of Capitalism has similarly explored the role of tradition and education in the formation of an ideology of work. The New Spirit of Capitalism argues that because late capitalism can no longer guarantee "upward social mobility" because the wage seems to provide or even to promise less with each passing decade capital faces once again the problem of how to produce a sufficiently persuasive psychological motive for submitting to wage work.6 For Boltanski and Chiapello, as for Weber, "duress must be internalized and justified" so that workers can "overcome the despair and nihilism which the capitalist order likewise constantly induces." Boltanski and Chiapello thus argue that the "new spirit of capitalism" provides a "set of beliefs" capable of legitimating capitalism and thus of "sustain[ing] the forms of action and predispositions compatible with it."7

Boltanski and Chiapello's effort to update Weber also informs other recent, influential accounts of post-industrial work and its ideologies: Kathi Weeks's The Problem with Work, Jasper Bernes's The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization, and Sianne Ngai's Our Aesthetic Categories. Weeks's book hews most closely to Weber's, defining the contemporary "work ethic" as the "willingness of workers to dedicate themselves to work as the center of their lives and as an end in itself."8 Bernes and Ngai, in turn, explore the way contemporary art both resists and reasserts the ideology of work. Bernes is interested in the "transformation of methods, means, attitudes, and social relations of work" for instance, the "recoding" of work into "leisure or hobby."9 On the one hand, he suggests, managerial attempts to make work feel meaningful are a response to radical critiques of alienated labor ­ a solution to what Weber describes as the "joyless," "impersonal" experience of modern work. On the other hand, they also tend to reduce labor and management costs while increasing labor efficiency, and thus have served to increase labor's exploitation. Ngai, in turn, maps the relationship between a "new code of extraeconomic justifications" for work and a new set of "aesthetic categories" which "call forth specific capacities for feeling and thinking."10 In particular, the aesthetic of the zany which "highlight[s] the affect, libido, and physicality" of a subject strenuously playing and playfully working registers the experience of exhaustion common to postindustrial labor. But it also tends to "flatter the spectator's sense of comparative security," reassuring her that her own self-sacrifice (either of desired consumption or of increasingly scarce leisure time) is not only rational, but also meaningful. For Ngai, then, the zany's excess produces in the viewer a comfort not so different from the entrepreneur's self-satisfied frugality in Weber's account.11

The essays in this cluster take up aspects of this post- or neo-Weberian project to define with precision and texture the ideological "spirit" that attends contemporary work. Here, however, the fantasy of vocation functions as a "psychological sanction" not because workers must embrace capitalism's acquisitive ethos, but rather because they acquire so little material benefit from it. Thus in Alden Sajor Marte-Wood's reading of domestic labor in Philippine Anglophone fiction, women's ostensibly natural "reproductive" commitments are marshalled to explain why they don't require much in the way of actual wages. Likewise, John Macintosh chronicles how novels about fine-dining restaurant workers serve as a synecdoche for the experience of many service workers today: they are supposed to find and convey aesthetic pleasure within demanding, exploitative, and repetitive labor. In my own essay, the idea of gigwork as a means to a different vocational calling i.e., making it big in the entertainment industry serves to distract from the harsh realities of uncontracted precarious work. For J. Dakota Brown, the fantasy that design aesthetics' self-reflexive opacity makes graphic labor inherently anti-capitalist obscures the reality that the work itself is becoming ever-more precarious and deskilled. In Jasper Bernes's reading of office work, the fact that workers are more and more likely to experience worklife as a "discontinuous temporality" defined by an uncertain future is rhetorically reframed as individual entrepreneurial success. Leigh Claire La Berge argues that masculinity serves as a minimum compensation for male workers in an era of wage stagnation and de-unionization. Describing Language Writing's 1970s-'80s dream of "heroically seiz[ing] the means of poetic production...the way workers might take over a factory," Tim Kreiner argues that writers in this period studiously ignored the fact that actual factories were quickly moving overseas in those years.

Yet all of these essays also clarify that such "justifications" do little to ameliorate the material conditions befalling contemporary workers. Weber consistently assumes that the wage is "physiologically sufficient" to the worker's basic reproductive needs. Only if this is the case, he says, can the worker stop continually calculating how much work to do in a day and instead treat work "as if it were an absolute end unto itself."12 But Weber's assumption that wages are always basically adequate is today less accurate than ever. Consequently, La Berge argues in her contribution, we must supplement the so-called "affective turn" with what she calls an "effective turn," a mode of analysis attentive to "economistic" quantitative measures like "inflation, wages, and the relationship between shifting coordinates of value or money": how long we work, how hard, for how much money and towards what purchasing power. According to one recent study, the United States currently has the highest share of low-wage employment in the wealthy world, with 25% of workers earning less than two-thirds of the national median wage.13 The US federal minimum wage the $7.25 an hour earned by approximately 2 million US workers is also the lowest among wealthy nations in terms of purchasing power parity.14 As a result, according to the most recent BLS "Profile of the Working Poor," 15% of the US population lives below the official poverty line: women more than men, Blacks and Hispanics more than whites, and service workers most commonly among occupations.15 The average wage among all US workers has been stagnant for nearly two decades, while for the bottom 20% it's been stagnant since the 1970s.16 When there have been modest wage gains, they have been entirely erased by increases in cost of living: from July 2017-2018, for instance, wages inched up 2.7% but inflation increased by 2.9%.17 In the 1990s and 2000s, one way many households compensated for stagnant wages and rising reproductive costs was to take on ever-greater amounts of consumer debt, and the same thing is happening again. Today household debt levels are poised to reach a new record, 13.3 trillion (of which an astonishing 30% is nonmortgage debt).18 Because 76% of the population lives "paycheck to paycheck," with no money to cover large or unexpected expenses, the average household owes an amount equal to 26% of its annual income.19

In this context, Weber's claim that "low wages fail even from a purely business point of view" seems remarkably ill-equipped to explain the present except as a means to get at what Marte-Wood identifies as a looming "reproductive crisis."20 Marte-Wood quotes David McNally's salient reminder that "every crisis in the reproduction of capital is simultaneously a crisis in the reproduction of labor power": that is, the inability of workers to provide for their own basic needs both intensifies and heralds a looming catastrophe for capitalism as such, dependent as capitalism is on the consumption as well as the labor of the global working-class. In Kreiner's essay on the relationships among the New Left, language poetry, and deindustrialization, likewise, changes in class composition follow from sharp declines in manufacturing employment and an uptick in low-wage service-sector jobs, the most menial of which are performed disproportionately by Black women and non-citizens. In my own essay on the gig economy, I note that the low wages of service sector employment not just in clearly "menial" service sector jobs like fast-food work but also in pink-collar jobs like teaching is forcing workers to take on second or third jobs, often in the gig economy. Indeed, what draws together all the forms of work described herein from domestic labor to graphic design, restaurant work to meat-cutting, delivery driving to secretarial labor is that they do not pay enough to provide for workers' basic needs.

Put simply, then, the essays in this cluster reverse the Weberian argument to ask what spirits emerge (or falter) when wages are inadequate. Rather than seeing the wage as an empirical given and searching elsewhere for the real "spirit" of work, they suggest that the defining characteristic of contemporary work is precisely its low wages. Rather than asserting that what "g[ives] a direction to practical conduct" must be found somewhere other than "the pursuit of riches for their own sake," they find directedness in the desperate struggle to ensure one can make ends meet.21 In this cluster, labor's "asceticism" the extent to which it requires setting aside "the spontaneous enjoyment of life" doesn't point to a theological significance beyond the wage but rather measures the austerity of waged life in an age of deindustrialization.22

It is worth pausing to note the choice of "deindustrialization" over the somewhat more common term "post-industrial." All too often, "post-industrial" refers to the emergence of something like Alvin Toffler's "Third Wave" a "genuinely new way of life based on diversified, renewable energy sources; on methods of production that make most factory assembly lines obsolete; ... [and] on a novel institution that might be called the 'electronic cottage.'"23 For thinkers like Toffler, "post-industrial" imagines a world in which factories magically disappear rather than simply moving to places where labor is cheap; a world in which work becomes dematerialized knowledge and capital becomes information. Even those scholars ostensibly critical of so-called "post-industrial" work tend to adopt a Tofflerian vocabulary, describing contemporary work as newly "immaterial," "cognitive," or "affective," as in Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri's influential description of post-industrial work as "communicative labor," the "interactive labor of symbolic analysis," and work "produc[ing] and manipulat[ing] affects."24 "Deindustrialization," by contrast, describes the historical process by which declining rates of industrial profit which economic historian Robert Brenner dates to the late 1960s caused US manufacturing and extractive firms to flee the US for cheap labor in the underdeveloped world and caused capital itself to seek out more profitable opportunities in the financial sector, especially investments in various forms of securitized debt.25 The result one intensified by political changes, especially during the late 1970s and early 1980s, when anxieties about stagflation were used to justify various forms of deregulation and union-busting was a weakened labor movement, one unable or unwilling to pivot towards the collectivization and protection of the newer class of non-industrial workers.

The kinds of work common to the age of deindustrialization are of course wide-ranging, running the gamut from the labor of those in the Professional-Managerial Class (the upper end of the broad "service sector" category) to the work done by the formally unemployed (including gigwork, the contingent "day labor" of undocumented immigrants, prison labor, and work in the illegal or informal economy). This diversity notwithstanding, it is a useful heuristic to imagine that if the exemplary (if nowhere near exclusive) representative of industrial work in the first half of the twentieth century was a white, male, unionized manufacturing worker, the exemplary representative of work in the age of deindustrialization is non-white and female, working in the sphere of reproductive labor (teaching, child-care, elder-care, nursing) or in low-end service work, for low wages and with little protection either by unions or by the state.

The essays in this cluster also refuse terms like "immaterial" because they often imply the lessening of labor's physical demands and substantiate a managerial ideology for which artistic flexibility models a form of work liberated qualitatively (though never quantitatively) from exploitation.26 Instead, the essays herein follow an argument most clearly articulated by Sarah Brouillette's influential Literature and the Creative Economy. Like Weeks, Ngai, and Bernes, Brouillette's work represents a new and urgent attention to questions of labor in late capitalism. Brouillette attends especially to the managerial fetish of "creativity," which she suggests is present not only in the social science monographs of neoliberal ideologues like Richard Florida but also in post-Marxist theories of immaterial labor. Among both proponents and critics of so-called "creative work," she writes, "we find an image of an economy in which individual human creativity has become the vanguard driving force and key productive engine."27 We also find, she goes on to note, a failure to reckon with the sort of worker whose alienated products are not "her self and her personality" and a tendency to "conceive honorable work ... as necessarily free, unique, and individual whereas dishonorable work, often associated with women's labor, mean[s] service, routine, impersonality, and the social." In rebutting the fantasy of postindustrial "creative work," Brouillette effectively describes what this cluster calls work in the age of deindustrialization, and her call for more thorough scholarly attention to "low-end, low-wage, low-autonomy, and low-skill [service] work" is both echoed and answered here.28 In Marte-Wood's and Macintosh's essays, especially, we find an attention to the ways affective performances the performance of expertise, attention, and care become a part of service sector work as well. We also find an effort to understand the ways in which apparent "care" work is physically intense, both because its qualitative requirements are often immensely physically taxing, and because of the effects of quantitative requirements like shift length and wage payment structures. As Macintosh writes, not only do restaurant workers "move constantly for the duration of the service... bending, reaching, leaning, and carrying objects by turns heavy, delicate, and breakable" but also "the tipped wage system incentivizes speed, whether it manifests as working as large of a section as possible, ... or trying to "turn" tables as quickly as possible to serve more paying customers." To Macintosh's powerful account we might also add the ways in which low wages themselves separate, that is, from the specific physical tasks low-wage work involves mark their effects on the worker's body: according to one recent report, low-wage workers are "particularly vulnerable to deteriorating working conditions," to physical strain and to diseases like cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure "indirectly" caused by economic precarity.29

These essays find in cultural texts about contemporary work a synthesis of what Bernes describes in Work of Art as the "qualitative critique" of work the critique of alienation, rigidity, and the grinding psychic experience of rationalized work and what he calls the "quantitative critique": the critique of low wages, long hours, and exploitation. As Bernes argues, the quantitative critique forged by labor unions diminished as industrialization claimed to provide "material prosperity" and (in the words of the 1973 government study Work in America from which he quotes) "'adequate and equitable pay, reasonable security, safety, comfort and convenience.'"30 These essays suggest that in a period of inadequate pay, minimal job security, wage volatility, wage theft, and hyperexploitation, the quantitative critique returns with a vengeance. Now, however, the quantitative critique is fully integrated into the prior decades' qualitative critique, including the latter's attention to lived experience and to social context.

In this sense, this cluster is in conversation not only with Weber's Protestant Ethic but also with Marx's chapter on the working day in Capital Volume 1. Marx suggests that the apparently quantitative measures of time and wages are also qualitative and experiential: the working day, he notes, "is not a fixed but a fluid quantity," fluctuating "within boundaries both physical and social."31 Here, more than in the earlier chapters of the book, exploitation is not simply a technical measure of the difference between the socially necessary labor time required to produce the commodity of labor and the value the worker produces in that time, but is also part and parcel of how the individual worker experiences the working day: how long the day is; how fast the worker must work; how much time the boss can steal from the worker's moments of rest ("nibbling and cribbling at meal times'"); whether shifts run through the night or not; whether the worker is able to attend Mass on Sundays; whether the worker dies young due to exhaustion and overwork; what clocks measure the length of the day and where they are hung; whether off-the-clock time is long enough to be a proper rest or merely a few hours of "enforced idleness" driving young workers to bars and brothels; whether workers are paid time wages or piece wages; and even the degree of material adulteration of the worker's "daily bread."32 The essays in this cluster likewise suggest that even apparently abstract or technical changes in the organization of work are vividly, often painfully experienced by workers themselves here, such managerial-cum-experiential changes would include the process of de-skilling that attends increased automation; the production of permanent temporariness or persistent part-time-ness; the racialization or feminization not just of jobs or sectors but even of particular tasks; the demand that the workers perform affects like care or nurture; the introduction of new methods of wage payment like pay-by-results or commission; the shift from employer-paid wages to customer-provided tips; the development of a remittance economy towards whose maintenance a portion of all workers' incomes must go.

Transformations in work both depend on and produce qualitative forms of social being and social organization. Indeed, this is the point of Marx's chapter too: "[T]he establishment of a norm for the working day presents itself as a struggle over the limits of that day," Marx observes, and the result is a "civil war" whose object is to set "not only the moral but even the merely physical limits of the working day."33 Changes in the modes of social organization are also registered by culture it is thus not surprising that Marx's chapter on the working day is among Capital's most vividly, wildly literary chapters. In writing it, Marx was famously inspired not just by the British government's factory inspection reports known as "Blue Books" but also by the novels of Charles Dickens and Charlotte and Emily Brontë, and the working day chapter is replete with literary references from its opening description of the "sound and fury of the production process" to its closing quotation from Virgil's Aeneid and with literary devices. "From the motely crowd of workers of all callings, ages, and sexes who throng around us more urgently than did the souls of the slain around Ulysses," Marx writes, "let us select two more figures, whose striking contrast proves that all men are alike in the face of capital a milliner and a blacksmith."34 By attending to Marx's characterological choice of these "figures," we might observe that many of the categorical distinctions which have since vexed so many Marxist and post-Marxist thinkers  especially ostensibly normative distinctions between productive, unproductive, and reproductive work, or between industrial work and creative work, or between men's work and men's work are of no particular concern to Marx here. That the milliner is a woman, doing the unproductive labor of producing "magnificent dresses for the noble ladies invited to the ball," while the blacksmith is a man, performing the kind of task "instinctive almost as a portion of human art," is no more a meaningful political distinction for Marx than it is for the capitalist who works each of them literally to death.35 In literary terms, moreover, we might note Marx's description of these as "types," and the way it explicitly draws on the tradition of the realist novel. As Georg Lukács famously argued, the novel's commitment to typification allows it to mediate between the particular and the general: this, he suggests, makes novelistic character the formal equivalent of social class as such, which similarly brought together disparate individuals into common cause.36 Critics have suggested that the aesthetic correlative of the regulated wage contract that form whose minimal provisions for social stability and individual development are the "modest Magna Carta" with which Marx's chapter ends was the realist novel, with its commitment to representing protagonists who could remain consistent while they developed and matured and who could be free in their individual particularity but protected as constituents of a collective social class.37 The essays here by Bernes, LaBerge, Marte-Wood, and Macintosh (as well as my own contribution) take up the question of work and narrative character: what happens when what Weber terms the "strong character" behind the ideal of "labor as a calling," gives way to something else? What happens, in other words, when stories of work no longer begin as Weber says capitalism did and as the seventeenth- to early-twentieth-century realist novel often does when "some young man ... went out into the country" to make his fortune?38

These essays depart, as I have suggested, from Weber's methodological assumptions (concerning the explanatory force of ideas), from his sites of attention (psychological motives), and most of all from his specific conclusions (that we continue to perform jobs we find terrible because we have ideas and psychological motives). Insofar as something of Weber's project still resonates here, it is in the sense that "spirit" describes not the "work ethic" of the laboring class, but rather the impersonal personification Marx describes in the working day chapter when he says that the capitalist "is only capital personified. His soul is the soul of capital [and] has one sole driving force, the drive to ... to absorb the greatest possible amount of surplus labor."39 Of course, this revision of Weber via Marx necessitates reading Weber's methodological individualism otherwise: to read for systemic rather than individual motive, for capital's "moving contradiction" rather than for subjective psychological sanction. Apostasy or no, however, it may turn out that the only way to read Weber's account of the need to make meaning out of making money today is to read not for a "spirit of capitalism" driving individuals but rather for a "spirit of capital" animating the mode of accumulation as a whole.

This sense of the spirit of capital appears in a number of the essays here. The rewriting of Weber described above wherein a psychological sanction attached to individual subjects becomes a law of motion and an animating spirit for a system is modeled in Bernes's essay, which turns from the corroded character of the office worker to the debilitated character of post-industrial capital itself. It appears in Marte-Wood's essay as well, wherein the figure of reproduction takes on multiple meanings, becoming a sign not only of biological reproduction and reproductive labor, but also of a reproductive crisis in capitalism as such. As Marte-Wood's attention to "terminal crisis" suggests, low-wage work is not only the animating spirit of post-industrial capital; it is also the specter haunting it. A recent post on the Financial Times blog fittingly observed that "compared to previous employment booms which were caused by the rapid growth of the most-productive enterprises, the experience of the past quarter-century suggests the growth of make-work [low-wage, low-productivity service work] has been the main thing preventing mass joblessness."40

What such economic analysis clarifies, then, is that the "spirit of capital" today is less concerned with finding "meaning [in] restless activity," as Weber put it, than with restoring vitality to a capitalism less interested in indeed, less capable of giving workers jobs than ever before.41 Or, as Joel Burges, in Out of Sync and Out of Work, puts it, the spirit of capital today is characterized by "the unforgiving dialectics of technological change that automation, mechanization, and computerization have propelled," a process of "falling into history" that "brings obsolete workers up against the very limits of reproducing themselves ... in an era in which diminishing work and falling wages have made such reproduction harder and harder."42 In this context, Brown's essay with its description of capitalism's persistent desire to rationalize, deskill, and ultimately expel human labor and Kreiner's essay with its account of late-twentieth century deindustrialization and automation most precisely capture the spirit of capital in an age of low-wage work described in this cluster. "As machines displace workers from the production process," Kreiner, quoting Marx, observes, "those who remain are reduced, via deskilling and routinization, to 'a living appendage of the machine.'" Yet Kreiner also urges us to attune our ears to other processes that echo this one to new forms of civil war outside the point-of-production struggles that characterized an age of industrial employment and the family wage, and to the ways in which both these struggles and the cultural objects that register them might allow us to view the ways "capital unevenly subsumes women and racialized populations beneath the wage." In his cogent and provocative argument that "Forms don't have politics. People do," Kreiner resists the assumption most famously aphorized by Theodor Adorno that we ought not be concerned with the poet's "psychology or his so-called social perspective, but with the poem as a philosophical sundial telling the time of history."43 Instead, Kreiner urges us to seek out the more "pointed" knowledge poems written in an age of deindustrialization provide via their "keen observations of the contemporary terrain." In his insistence that we resist seductive analogies between formal techne and material politics and instead see poetry as "something people with political commitments honed elsewhere sometimes write," Kreiner's essay returns us, unexpectedly, to the textured account of individual motive and commitment precisely those aspects of experience Adorno dismisses as "psychology and social perspective" that it might have seemed our post-Weberian project disavowed. In these essays, of course, the project of discerning motive has been rewritten and reimagined as the grounds of political commitment or at least a canny awareness of one's real coercion rather than as a consensual complicity with waged life. Yet these essays do, in the end, attend to what whether force or belief drags us to work, and also to the forms of lived, material experience that might enable us to forge common cause against and outside it. "Human beings do not only endure history," write Boltanski and Chiapello, "they make it. And we wanted to see them at work."44 In this cluster, we wanted to see the ways human beings both do and do not endure work itself; the ways meaning means less than does a living wage, and wages are less than is required to live; and the ways the making of history today means ensuring that the spirit of capital itself ceases to work.



Thanks to Tim Kreiner for his immensely valuable feedback on this introduction. This essay would not have been possible without the skill, patience, and intelligence of the editorial team at Post45: Sean McCann, Palmer Rampell, Anna Shechtman, and Arthur Wang.



  1. Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, trans. Talcott Parsons (1930, reprint; London: Routledge Classics, 2001), 19-20.[]
  2. Ibid., 259.[]
  3. Karl Marx, Capital, vol. 1, trans. Ben Fowkes (New York: Penguin Classics, 1976 [1867), 899-900.[]
  4. As Ellen Meiksins Woods powerfully puts it, after the coercive "dispossession of direct producers" renders workers propertyless, their "only access to the ... requirements of their own production ... is the sale of their labor-power in exchange for a wage [through which] capitalists can appropriate the workers' surplus labor without direct coercion." Ellen Meiksins Wood, The Origins of Capitalism, A Longer View (London: Verso, 1999), 3, emphasis added.[]
  5. Marx, Capital, 899, emphasis added.[]
  6. Luc Boltanski and Eve Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism (1999; reprint, London: Verso, 2007), xxxvi.[]
  7. Ibid, 10.[]
  8. Kathi Weeks, The Problem with Work: Feminism, Marxism, Antiwork Politics and Postwork Imaginaries (Durham: Duke University Press, 2011), 69.[]
  9. Jasper Bernes, The Work of Art in the Age of Deindustrialization (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2017), 19, 26.[]
  10. Sianne Ngai, Our Aesthetic Categories: Zany, Cute, Interesting (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013), 202, 11.[]
  11. Ibid, 7, 11.[]
  12. Weber, The Protestant Ethic, 25.[]
  13. Eileen Appelbaum, Gerhard Bosch, Jerome Gautie, Geoff Mason, Ken Mayhew, Wiemer Salverda, John Schmitt, and Niels Westergaard-Nielsen, "Introduction and Overview," in Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World, eds. Jerome Gautie and John Schmitt (New York: Russell Sage Foundation, 2010), esp. 7-11.[]
  14. Geoff Mason and Wiemer Salverda, "Low Pay, Working Conditions, and Living Standards," in Low-Wage Work in the Wealthy World, 59.[]
  15. Bureau of Labor Statistics, "A Profile of the Working Poor: 2014," April 2016, accessed November 2018.[]
  16. Lawrence Mishel, Elise Gould, and Josh Bivens, "Wage Stagnation in Nine Charts," Economic Policy Institute Blog, Jan. 6, 2015, accessed November 2018.[]
  17. Drew DeSilver, "For most US workers, real wages have barely budged for decades," PEW Research Center Blog, August 7, 2018, accessed November 2018. []
  18. Reuters, "US household debt rises to $13.3 trillion in second quarter," Reuters Web, Aug. 14, 2018, accessed November 2018. []
  19. CNBC, "Most Americans Live Paycheck," CNBC Web, Aug, 30, 2017.,[]
  20. Weber, The Protestant Ethic, 25.[]
  21. Ibid., 55, 116.[]
  22. Ibid., 18.[]
  23. Alvin Toffler, The Third Wave (1980; reprint, New York: Bantam Books, 1989), 10.[]
  24. Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2001), 30. Also quoted in La Berge's essay in this volume.[]
  25. See Robert Brenner, The Economics of Global Turbulence: The Advanced Capitalist Economies from Long Boom to Long Downturn, 1945-2005 (London: Verso, 2006).[]
  26. Curiously, we find a similar lack of interest in work's material conditions in Weber's book, where the word "physical" appears almost exclusively as "metaphysical"; "body" as "body of texts"; "manual" only in its meaning as an instructional book.[]
  27. Sarah Brouillette, Literature and the Creative Economy (Palo Alto: Stanford University Press, 2014), 44.[]
  28. Ibid., 46; 52-53.[]
  29. Mason and Salverda, "Low Pay," 53.[]
  30. Bernes, The Work of Art, 8.[]
  31. Marx, Capital, 341.[]
  32. Ibid., 352; 403; 359. []
  33. Marx, Capital, 375, 409.[]
  34. Ibid., 364.[]
  35. Ibid., 364; 366.[]
  36. See Georg Lukács, Studies in European Realism, trans. Edith Bone (New York: Grosset and Dunlap, 1964).[]
  37. Marx, Capital, 416.[]
  38. Weber, The Protestant Ethic, 30-31.[]
  39. Ibid., 254.[]
  40. Matthew Klein, "The Great American Make-Work Programme," FTAlphaville, Sept. 8. 2016, accessed November 2018.[]
  41. Weber, The Protestant Ethic, 32.[]
  42. Joel Burges, Out of Sync and Out of Work: History and the Obsolescence of Labor in Contemporary Culture (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 2018), 1-2.[]
  43. Theodor Adorno, Notes to Literature Vol. 2, trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen (New York: Columbia University Press, 1992 [1974]), 46. []
  44. Boltanski and Chiapello, The New Spirit of Capitalism, 10.[]