WORCK Conference 1: Reconceptualising Wage Labour 16-19 September 2020: Budapest, Hungary

6-19 September 2020: Budapest, Hungary

One of the defining features of global labour history has been the insistence on looking beyond wage labour. Much scholarship has therefore been directed towards labour understood to be informal or coercive. From this vantage point, historians have argued that in a global and long-term historical perspective wage labour in a stable labour market was rarely the norm. However, in conceptualizing wage labour as an exception scholars often maintain an analytical distinction between labour relations understood to be coercive, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, wage labour which is implicitly or explicitly understood to be a form of free labour. This conference aims to move past this binary by exploring the moments and logics of labour coercion within labour relations mediated by remuneration (of all kinds) and/or contracts (of all kinds) including ostensibly free labour. To this end, it also seeks to open up a discussion about whether concepts such as “hired labour” can help historians reconceptualise historical links between wage labour and labour coercion.

In nine sessions, 37 conference speakers from all parts of the world will address the conference topic from different perspectives. Two round table discussions and a debate on a documentary will complement the program.

Link to the program

Sat 19–09–2020

4:30–6:30pm
Coercion and Precarisation


Chair: Christian De Vito

Bridget Kenny — Trading time, producingpolitical subjects: Struggles over store
trading hours and the category ‘worker’ in Johannesburg, South Africa, 1960s–1980s

Massimiliano Livi — Free the work to free life from work: A trend historical analysis of
‘freedom of work’ in Italy since the 1970s

Cecilia Kovai/András Vigvari — Labour coercion during crisis and conjunction: Lessons from
rural Hungary between 2008 and 2018

Mohammad Tareq Hasan — Solidarity in flux: Cultural discourse, coercion, and resistance
in the Garment Factories of Bangladesh

Daniel Škobla/Richard Filčák — ‘Labor activation’ and the neoliberal workfare in contemporary Slovakia


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