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Immaterial Labor Essay

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Updated: Oct 9th, 2019


Immaterial labor refers to the two aspects of labor: informational content and cultural content. Informational content are the skillful changes utilized by workers in the labor processes that occurring in the industrial and tertiary sectors while cultural content refers to all the activities that cannot be categorized normally as work but determines the cultural artistic standards, fashions, tastes and consumer traditions that shape quality of service or product.

Mass intellectuality

Empirical research and theoretical reflection of the new forms of work organization led to the radical modification of the management, composition and control of the work force that have profoundly influenced the roles of intellectuals within the society. Manual labor has undergone great transformation into intellectual labor due to the demands of capitalists and self-valorization as factors of production.

Intellectual labor requires workers to be subjective to the organization as the aim of modern management strategies is to make workers’ soul be part of the organization. The subjectivity of workers to the organization is the basis of achieving quality and quantity immaterial labor in production given that work is the ability to activate and manage a team of workers productively.

In addition to subjectivity of workers, activity is another attribute required for optimum productivity in an organization since the heart of productivity is collective learning and innovation of new organizational functions.

Subjectivity has a disadvantage of generating conflicts between various social classes within the organization because capitalist demands absolute subjectivity, which is practically impossible in the view of the competencies of the workers. The management concept of subjectivity seems to be an autocratic management as capitalist seeks to have a communicative process that totally involves and emanates from their subjects.

Immaterial Labor

Immaterial labor activities entail forms of networks and flows characterized by the precariousness, hyper-exploitation, mobility and hierarchy hence its power depends on the professional and management capacities.

The challenge of immaterial labor is its interface position between production and consumption, which compels it to promote both productive and social relationship through the process of subjective though it seemed to be autocratic.

The big question revolves around the independence and ability of immaterial labor to develop organizational capacities and corporate relationship. According to the economists, industries do not create new power but takes an on-board power by adaption. On contrast, immaterial labor requires new forms of work organization to be innovated through activity.

The two differing views arise; one is the neoclassical analysis that tries to redefine the market problem by introducing cooperation and intensity of labor to optimize production. The other view is the system theory that conceives organization factors such as material or immaterial, individual or collective in eliminating market constrains.

The immaterial labor leads to the improvement of productive cooperation in aspects of production and reproduction of communication thus enhancing the concept of subjectivity. Integration of consumption into the immaterial cycle by Fordism and subsequent integration of communication disrupts producer-consumer relationship.


In immaterial labor, informational and cultural content are the aspects that determine productivity in an organization. Harmonization and optimization of the aspects results in the expected quality and quantity of immaterial labor in production.

Although immaterial labor is very productive, capitalist’s demands of absolute subjectivity is an autocratic management characterized by the hyper-exploitation and generation of conflicts between different social classes within the organization.

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"Immaterial Labor." IvyPanda, 9 Oct. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/immaterial-labor/.

1. IvyPanda. "Immaterial Labor." October 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/immaterial-labor/.


IvyPanda. "Immaterial Labor." October 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/immaterial-labor/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Immaterial Labor." October 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/immaterial-labor/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Immaterial Labor'. 9 October.

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