In Lyon, all working groups “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK) meet for the first time for conceptual and methodological exchange. The working group leaders will present first ideas to the whole network and the working group members will start their collaborative work on joint publications and activities. The three-day meeting closes with a discussion on the future digital research infrastructure, on cross-cutting research themes and questions for future WORCK conferences, training schools and public outreach activities, and on the science and communication strategy of the COST Action. The COST Action “Worlds of Related Coercions in Work” (WORCK) calls for a radical change of perspective in labour history. It links the stories of work and production with those of violence, expropriation and marginalisation.
By studying the persistence and transformations of coercion and bondage across gender orders, geographic regions and historical eras, WORCK shifts the focus of labour history: Neither the male-breadwinner model nor the free wage labourer or the capitalist mode of production can form the blueprint for this new history of WORCK. Instead, a deeper understanding of the mechanisms of coercion in all work relations throughout history is the pivot of this endeavour.
By detecting the “logic of deployment” (Banaji 2010) in a long-term and global perspective, WORCK seeks to move beyond the analytical framework of the modern West. Radical historicisation shall help to reconceptualise labour history as a specific approach to social history and to link the study of the past with current debates on social inequalities and the flexibilisation and precarisation of work worldwide.
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