The world of work and the crisis of capitalism: Marx and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Hughes, Carl and Southern, Alan ORCID: 0000-0003-3661-3442
(2019) The world of work and the crisis of capitalism: Marx and the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Journal of Classical Sociology, 19 (1). 59 - 71.

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<jats:p> Marx’s work on machines showed an initial clarity on where he believed technology sits in the means of production. The machine, its differentia specifica, while it consumes other forms of raw material just as the labourer consumes food, does not appear as the means of labour in the same way as that of the individual worker. How this fits in with contemporary debate around the Fourth Industrial Revolution and its re-shaping of the world of work is the focus in this article. Our examination of this is in the broader context of the crisis of capitalism, the tendency towards objectified labour and the view that automation, the ‘Uberization’ of the economy, is likely to sharpen the contradictions between capital and labour. Whether we are entering a time of post capitalism, or a post-work period, warnings of job loss associated with the convergence of robotisation, big data digitisation, bio-tech and artificial intelligence indicate that the tension and complexity of decreased labour inputs will lead to a more acute world of work. Here, we draw on the work of Marx to help stimulate ideas for investigating and analysing what the Fourth Industrial Revolution means for labour and how the neutrality of the technologies remains to be socially shaped. </jats:p>

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 15 Feb 2019 09:08
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2022 07:17
DOI: 10.1177/1468795x18810577