Labour as a Commons: The Example of Worker-Recuperated Companies

Dario Azzellini
  • Critical Sociology, August 2016, SAGE Publishing
  • DOI: 10.1177/0896920516661856

Can labour be understod as a commoning practice and what would it look like?

What is it about?

This article argues that labour can be understood as a commons, located in the discussion of how commons can advance the transformation of social relations and society. To manage labour as a commons entails a shift away from the perception of labour power as the object of capital’s value practices, towards a notion of labour power as a collectively and sustainably managed resource for the benefit of society. Given that social change is largely a result of social struggle, it is crucial to examine germinal forms of labour as a commons present in society. I focus my analysis on worker-recuperated companies in Latin America and Europe. Worker-recuperated companies are enterprises self-managed by their workers after the owners close them down. Despite operating within the hegemonic capitalist market, they do not adopt capitalist rationality and are proven viable. Worker-recuperated companies offer a new perspective on labour as a commons.

Why is it important?

Most examples for commoning are referring to traditions, especially in rural areas. More modern examples of commoning and urban commoning focus on the use of pubic space and collective housing. Labor as a commons remains often abstract and concrete examples of orban commoning are usually refering to free software production. So it seems important to publish an article on labor as a commons.

The following have contributed to this page: Dr. Dr. Dario Azzellini