Playing, Gaming, Working and Labouring: Framing the Con-cepts and Relations

  • Arwid Lund Uppsala University
Keywords: Play, Playing, Work, Working, Game, Games, Gaming, Labour, Labor, Labouring, Laboring, Typology, Marx, Marxism, Autonomist Marxism, General Intellect, Post-Fordism, Cognitive Capitalism, Peer Production, Situationist International, Critical theory


The aim of this article is to define the concepts of playing, working, gaming, and labouring, through a literature study, and to construct a typology. This typology will be used to create a field model that is structured by the horizontal parameters of qualitative-quantitative (characteristics) and the vertical parameters of activity-result (in focus). It is shown how this model can be used to visualise different theoretical positions in empirical material, which connects to the concepts and their relations. Working and labouring are distinguished into a trans-historical and a historical, capitalist, category, and likewise playing and gaming, where the former is the trans-historical category and the latter the historical one. The main focus of the article, since working and labouring is well covered within the critical Marxist tradition, is on playing and its relation to working, with the aim of understanding and criticising the concept of playbour.

Author Biography

Arwid Lund, Uppsala University
PhD-student in Library- and Information Science at the Department of ALM (Archival, Library & Information, Museum & Cultural Heritage Studies), University of Uppsala, Sweden. Author of three books in Swedish, and has worked as a librarian with digital publishing and digital repositories. Activist in social movements for the past 20 years.
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