From bullshit jobs to the rebellion of the caring class

Angelina Kussy (Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) and Magda Malinowska (Workers’ Initiative), moderator: Przemysław Wielgosz (LMD-PL)

The pandemic crisis dramatically confirmed the importance of the concept of “bullshit jobs” formulated by David Graeber. The hierarchy of social needs established by the requirement of responding to healthcare and economic consequences of the epidemic turned on their head priorities upheld for decades by neoliberal policies and theories. The question of overvaluing certain sectors of the economy and work, and undervaluing others ceased to be an obscure academic debate, or a subject of moral judgement. Today, it has become a fundamental question for the survival of society.

We saw in all its glory the irrationality of a system showering advertising, marketing, or finance employees with money, privileges and prestige, while refusing the same to healthcare, education, or emergency services.  And yet there is a mountain of academic papers proving that while a banker or an advertising agent suck wealth from the economy, a nurse and a house cleaner generate social wealth. Jobs of the former merit Graeber’s name of bullshit jobs, whereas care work turns out to be essential.

But where do those overpaid bullshit jobs come from, and what economic functions do they have in capitalist economy? Why in a system that allegedly allocates resources rationally, 30% of the employed takes money for nothing? To what extent the true function of work in capitalism is revealed here – as a form od discipline, subjugation, social control and knocking ideas of political involvement out of people’s heads? Why is that the more important a job is, and the more important social needs it fulfils, the less it is appreciated? What is political economics, gender and race of the caring class? Can we say the caring class exists, and who are its members? And if so, how can this class organise itself, and increase its bargaining power and political subjectivity? Will the rebellion of the caring class overthrow capitalism?

The meeting will be held on Zoom. Registration required (open until 26.04.2021) via the application form on our website. We will e-mail the link to the meeting to registered participants. We are planning live streaming on Facebook. The meeting will be recorded and archived on our YouTube channel and in Resources on Biennale website. To protect your image, we ask you to keep your cameras and microphones off during the entire event. But we do encourage you to join the discussion and send us questions on the chat. The moderator Przemysław Wielgosz will ask them on your behalf.