Typewriter, telephone, transistor

Posted on | July 6, 2015 | No Comments

Here’s a write up of my paper from the recent Terms of Media conference at Leuphana University. This is a draft heading for Judy Wajcman and Nigel Dodd’s forthcoming collection, The Sociology of Speed: Digital, Organizational and Social Temporalities. And since it is material coming out of my own book, Counterproductive, all feedback at this stage is very welcome. Abstract below.

How do employers encourage productivity in knowledge workers? How do we measure outputs and accomplishment in a world of immaterial labor? Inspired by Kittler’s (1999) Gramophone, Film, Typewriter, this article traces a series of management innovations over the past century that cumulatively determined the speed and character of labor. In the shift from shop floor to social factory, productivity moved from an external imposition to a performance of individual will – a lifestyle choice for responsible professionals. The personalization of productivity completes a process of professional subjectification that sutures aspiration and athleticism to competitive ends. It turns the workplace into a sporting field that promises to reward champions.


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