The Future of Work: From Dystopia to Utopia?
But four countertrends could pave a very different path. First, some democratic states have moved to limit or partially reverse the advance of precarity, expanding the scope of social protection and the “social wage.” Second, mobliziation strategies are essential, both to provide political foundations for more progressive state strategies and to shift the calculus of employers away from “low road” strategies. New models of precarious worker organizing are particularly promising. Third is the resurgence of visions of the cooperative organization of production—akin to Robert Owen’s utopian strategies—most recently in experiments the “solidarity economy.” Finally, while technological change has been used to degrade work, technology’s current trajectory also has subversive possibilities that undermine capital’s power and legitimacy and have the potential to support a modernized Owenite vision of collaborative “peer production”. None of these countertrends is sweeping the field, but they have proven resilient and could be particularly powerful in combination. A utopian world of work is not as remote as it seems.