Research

The Labouring Futures research framework offers:

1. Theoretical knowledge exploring transformations in the labouring form and labouring futures. It is proposed that such futures, including hopes for different future scenarios, necessarily demand a confrontation with the co-ordinates of time. Drawing on pragmatist sociology and aspects of pragmatist philosophy, which both refute the view that time is a thing or place differentiated from action, such co-ordinates are understood to be inescapably tied to practice. Thus labouring futures are actualised in motion. Yet, in this framework Adkins asks, if futures are made in practice, how is it that the employed, the underemployed and the unemployed now unite under the banner of ‘no future’? How is it that practice is now apparently failing to actualise a future? In this framework Adkins maintains that this failure concerns not so much capitalism reaching its limit points (as is so often assumed) but rather that labour increasingly evades and escapes the very temporal logic that made (a better) future imaginable, namely, the logic of the clock.

2. Empirical knowledge exploring the working biographies of the employed, the underemployed and the unemployed located in the unevenly restructuring, in process, economies in Australia and Finland. Biography serves not only as a device to track and trace the mutations in working lives in these on-the-move economies, but also – and as a device precisely tuned to temporality – to map how these mutations concern transformations in the co-ordinates of time. This research aims to deliver comparative empirical data on mutations in working lives and the temporalities ordering those transformations.

3. Methodological knowledge exploring how mutations in the co-ordinates of time necessarily demand new methodological orientations on the part of social scientists and especially on the part of sociologists. Such new orientations are required not least because existing methodological approaches tend to assume temporal co-ordinates which are out of time with the time of post-Fordism. They assume, for example, time as an extensive rather than an intensive property. In this framework Adkins therefore asks what social science methods are appropriate for such a time? How might a methodological engagement with such a time afford opportunities for sociology to re-imagine itself? These questions have been explored to date in the special issues What is the Empirical (2009) and Measure and Value (2011/12).

 

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