Re: Contingency and Irony

Yoshie Furuhashi wrote:

>Spencer E. Ante writes on the increased use of contingent workers in _Wired
>News_ <>:
>>The growing need for such "free agents" to have specially tailored
>>representation is clear. In 1986, the number of temps employed
>>each day was 800,000, but the number had more than tripled by last year,
>>according to the National Association of Temporary and Staffing
>>Services. A recent study by the Economic Policy Institute
>>determined that self-employed and temporary workers now make up 30 percent of
>>the American workforce.
>>Increasingly, these workers are hired as so-called long-term
>>temps: employees who work at a company for at least one year, have
>>flexible hours and high take-home pay, but no benefits or job security.
>>High-tech firms, such as Microsoft, AT&T, Intel, Hewlett-Packard,
>>and Boeing are particularly avid employers of long-term temps.
>How do Foucauldians theorize the relationship (or lack thereof) between
>postmodern emphasis on 'contingency' and capital's thirst for increasing
>use of contingent workers (temps, 'independent contractors,' 'free agents,'
>or however you call us) with no job security, no benefits, etc.? Is the
>relationship merely contingent? Or does postmodernism serve as a
>disciplinary discursive formation that works on the bodies of temps perdu,
>by producing the minds that enjoy the symptoms of late capitalism,
>including our own downward mobility?
>Considering that many Foucauldians are located in academy, what do you guys
>think of a very high proportion of contingent workers in academic labor (40
>% and upwards, without counting grad assistants) in the USA?
>Irony of postmodernism?

Sorry to be the literalist here, but that 30% figure is wildly inflated.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics did a survey in Feb 1997 and found only
about 5% of employed workers were contingent.

Which doesn't invalidate Yoshie's question, of course.


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