Freedom, Distribution and Work from Home: Rereading Engels in the Time of the COVID-19-Pandemic

  • Saayan Chattopadhyay Baruipur College
  • Sushmita Pandit Future Media School
Keywords: pandemic, work from home, Friedrich Engels, Karl Marx, freedom, migration, distribution, COVID-19, coronavirus


The aim of this paper is to understand the emerging practices of work from home drawing from the works of Friedrich Engels. Situating the rising debate on work from home, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this article revisits some of the texts by Friedrich Engels to understand the issues of distribution, freedom, necessity and work. The idea of work from home becomes especially critical in the context of a developing country like India, with its limited access to digital infrastructure, inadequate work-space at home, and precarious work conditions. However, the digital network and devices play a pivotal role under these conditions and often offer a promise of “new freedom” and flexibility. It is not just the middle-class professionals, but several other dimensions of work and labour are implicated within the idea of work from home under sudden economic and social disruption. The new organisation of production, assisted by capitalism, forges new relations of production, and new predicaments and Engels's thoughts on freedom, work and the condition of the working class become increasingly relevant to understand these shifts, particularly in a neoliberal, developing country like India under nationwide lockdown.

Author Biography

Sushmita Pandit, Future Media School

Sushmita Pandit is an Assistant Professor of Media Studies at Future Media School, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad University of Technology, India. She also works as a radio presenter at All India Radio, Kolkata. She has published her works in journals such as Journalism Practice, Media Asia, Journal of Digital Media and Policy and Global Media Journal, among others. Her research interest includes digital humanities, television studies and media policy.

Engels@200: Friedrich Engels in the Age of Digital Capitalism