Shifting Capitalist Critiques: The Discourse about Unionisation in the Hi-Tech Sector
Drawing on Luc Boltanski's work on capitalist transformations we argue that recent hi-tech unionising features a new model of critique which combines tenets from both the social and the artistic critique. Hi-tech workers – cultured in the ethos and achievements of the artistic critique that protests the inhibition of creativity, and the lack of personal expression and authenticity prevalent in capitalism – seek to resurrect the social critique that protests the inequality, poverty, and egoism that capitalism entails. This creates an interesting dynamic of protest discourse since the social critique partly stands in contradiction to the artistic critique: responding to one entails ignoring the other. The analysis of interviews with leaders of unionisation efforts in global hi-tech firms elucidates the tension between the two clusters of critique and the attempts to overcome it. It also allows us to engage theoretically with Boltanski by highlighting the particular characteristics of the agents voicing the critique.
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