On autonomy and the technological abolition of academic labour




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As the global higher education sector is re-engineered through real subsumption inside the logic of competition, academic labour is increasingly proletarianised through the desperate search for relative surplus value. As a result, universities become more capital-intensive, by investing in technology and organisational development However, as more constant capital or means of production are set in motion by an individual labourer, there is a pressure to economise on labour-power or to discover new markets. The conditioning of academic labour through precariousness, performance management and so on amplify overwork, self-exploitation, ill-health and ill-being.

However, just as capital drives towards the technological abolition of academic labour, it also depends completely upon that labour for its own reproduction and survival. This is a crucial moment of weakness for capital, and resistance depends upon a movement beyond the fetishisation of such labour to explore the possibilities that exist beyond the binary of employment/unemployment. This chapter argues for struggles for the abolition of academic labour through moments of solidarity with other communities seeking to reconstitute their own lived experiences on post-capitalist terms. A critical issue is how to uncover and reproduce co-operative practices across the fabric of society, in order to widen collective spheres of autonomy.



higher education, academic labour, proletarianisation, technology, humanism, law of value


Hall, R. (2019) On autonomy and the technological abolition of academic labour. In: Education and Technological Unemployment, eds. M.A. Peters, P. Jandrić, and A.J. Means. Singapore: Springer.


Research Institute

Institute for Research in Criminology, Community, Education and Social Justice
Centre for Urban Research on Austerity (CURA)