New article: What Are Post-Fordist Wages?

Lisa Adkins, ‘What Are Post-Fordist Wages?  Simmel, Labor Money, and the Problem of Value’ in a 2015 special issue of South Atlantic Quarterly on Rethinking Money, Debt, and Finance after the Crisis (eds) Melinda Cooper and Martijn Konings.

In a context of wage repression, indebted labor, and a pervasive gap between what labor earns and what it needs to spend, in this essay I ask: what are post-Fordist wages? I suggest that the key features of the post-Fordist wage should be understood in terms of broad transformations to the capacities of money, transformations that have rendered wages an unstable measure of value, including any value that may be constituted by labor. Such transformations demand a focus not on what wages should measure and comprise but on their potentiality, that is, on what they can do. In this regard, I suggest that Georg Simmel’s understanding of money as an in-motion surface, as well as his critique of “labor money,” finds important points of resonance for the post-Fordist present. In addition to highlighting the renewed relevance of Simmel’s social theory, I further ask: What are the implications of these transformations to wages for the development of a relevant politics of the post-Fordist wage? Can post-Fordist wages be challenged from within?
South Atlantic Quarterly  Volume 114, Number 2 (2015): 331-353
Photo: Brendan Riley

Photo: Brendan Riley