Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Service Industry: Turning workers into little entrepreneurs

Service workers who refuse to identify with their jobs often do so in the name of a "true calling" that they pursue outside of work hours with this same enterprising spirit. As art, adventure, and social life are all absorbed into the logic of productive investment, it becomes easy to look at your time at work as a capital outlay that enables you to pursue your dreams off the clock, like a new business owner paying rent on her storefront in hopes of future success. The flexible, temporary nature of service employment encourages this attitude; if additional free time is "more valuable" than extra wages, we have the freedom to work less, and if not, we can try to work more. In this way, the mentality of self-employment is extended to individuals who might otherwise contest employment itself...A worker's personal quirks and secrets, previously the only territory beyond the reach of the market, become commodities to be sold like any other. In this regard, the service industry represents a front in the total colonization of our social lives.
Exerpted from "The Service Industry," in Work: Capitalism. Economics. Resistance.