// Issue 5 2005: Precarious Labour


Issue Edited by Brett Neilson and Ned Rossiter

Multitudes, Creative Organisation and the Precarious Condition of New Media Labour

Broadly speaking, this issue of Fibreculture Journal is interested in the problem of political organisation as it relates to the overlapping spheres of labour and life within post-Fordist, networked settings. It’s becoming increasingly clear that multiple forms of exclusion and exploitation within the media and cultural industries run along the lines of gender, ethnicity, age, and geography. New forms of class division are emerging whose locus of tension can be attributed to the ownership and control of information.

The mobile capacity of information corresponds, in many instances, with the flexible nature of work across many sectors of the media and cultural industries. And it is precisely the informatisation of social relations that makes political organisation such a difficult – even undesireable – undertaking for many. Without recourse to traditional institutions such as the union, new technics of organisation are required if the common conditions of exploitation are to be addressed and transformed.

Precarious labour practices generate new forms of subjectivity and connection, organised about networks of communication, cognition, and affect. These new forms of cooperation and collaboration amongst creative labourers contribute to the formation of a new socio-technical and politico-ethical multitude. The contemporary multitude is radically dissimilar from the unity of “the people” and the coincidence of the citizen and the state. What kinds of creative organisation are specific to precarious labour in the era of informatisation? How do they connect (or disconnect) to existing forms of institutional life? And how can escape from the subjectification of precarious labour be enacted without nostalgia for the social state or utopian faith in the spontaneity of auto-organisation? These are some of the key questions the articles gathered here set out to addresss.

This issue is launched just months, perhaps, after memes such as the “multitude” and “precarity” have reached their high point. We find that it is all the more instructive to be publishing this collection of articles at such a time, since the urgency to organise is greatest when the novelty of slogans begins to flat-line, when routine and fatigue perhaps kick in again. Such occasions mark a transition period of regeneration and imagination, of working out what works and what doesn’t in order to gather resources and begin the creative composition of living labour.

We thank the contributors for their patience in seeing this issue come to a conclusion of sorts. Good food takes care to prepare. And we thank the referees for their prompt and constructive feedback on these pieces. Thanks also to Andrew Murphie for his guidance and advice. And a special thanks to Lisa Gye for her work on getting it all online.