Saturday, April 26, 2008

Capitalism, Leisure & Blogging

It is pretty obvious actually and will definitely be old hat for sociologists and economists but I have been thinking about how the idea of what constitutes work and leisure has changed in our networked and information-based economy ("post-Fordist" economy). Since it is actually the "intellectual labour" which is getting converted into capital it really doesn't matter whether you are at work or at leisure - you may still be thinking about what happened over the week on the weekends when you are technically enjoying your leisure. On top of that, there is always this expectation that people will choose those leisure activities and hobbies which can help them in being more productive at work. So someone who makes his living by programming will have learning new languages or designing algorithms as one of his hobbies. Even if you don't have a dedicated hobby, you are expected to read up work related books and documents, learn things outside your current job, get a few certifications or even part-time degrees and if you don't you will be left behind in the Darwinian race because everybody else is doing the same.

One more week and it will be three years since I started this blog. It is no mean achievement given how feeble the existential foundations are on which this blog rests. It was when thinking about justification of its existence that I thought it could seen as (a mostly symbolic) resistance against the insidious power of global capitalism in our personal lives that I mentioned earlier. It makes me feel good, specially since the last few weeks I have been getting a bit screwed and being forced to catch up on things that I should have utilized my leisure for. After all you don't want to get yourself nominated for those Darwin awards. Blogging will be a bit erratic in the coming weeks. Lots of uncertainties, fears and doubts...

5 comments:

Vidya said...

It is no mean achievement given how feeble the existential foundations are on which this blog rests. It was when thinking about justification of its existence that I thought it could seen as (a mostly symbolic) resistance against the insidious power of global capitalism in our personal lives that I mentioned earlier.

Existential foundations on which the blog rests???!! Are google's server's are so unreliable? Anyway the lines are pretty good :)

Alok said...

thanks :) Yeah, like all existential questions this one is pretty tough to answer too. Why does this blog exist?

Madhuri said...

I am sure your thoughts on capitalism and leisure are much echoed, but I will still add my own echo of assent. The imposed 'choice' of leisure becomes a terrible burden, and it feels that your entire life rests on the single pillar of career. I wonder if things work this way everywhere, or whether it is something to do with the Asian work culture owed to the higher seekers to job ratio here.
As for your blog - congratulations on the three years. I think the existential foundations of a blog such as yours are stronger than the existential foundations of some careers.

Kubla Khan said...

I read somewhere that the average life of a blog is 3 years.
i hope you can defy this.
but surely we do certain things without thinking a priori......of what it actually means......
you wrote about photography etc and now leisure.....but don't we also innocently order our life owing purely to instinct?
reading Adorno helped me see more into the culture industry, leisure, TV,adverts etc and how these things work. but, the average person normally cares little about what it might actually mean.
drinking coke for eg is not really succumbing to global american empire is it? one can drink coke purely for just having it, out of thirst etc why are modern philosophers bent on making us paranoid?
just a thought though i do subscribe to some of their thinking patterns.

life is so un-understandable as it is and then all these added complications too. why question everything? why not let the waves rush us into easeful melancholy?

but these thoughts too are reflective of a certain mood. that is their charm i guess. and that is perhaps how we survive.

my blogging, as you might have noticed, has run into a block that is not self imposed but has arisen de novo just like the beginning of it.
as regards existential foundations, i am not a great fan of this particular stance but will say that perhaps the existence of these blogs( with exceptions of course) is as inexplicable as their demise. to write and not write are the same. i know a few people who can write better than what i find on the net. yet, they choose to keep quiet. and, where actually do our blogs exist?
what name and what identity do they have?
what identity or what life does a great novel have for a man who has never heard of it? for life still goes on, still in the same way........

i know the above lines are all muddled but i am sure you will excuse me.

Sandy said...

Hey, I just stumbled into your space. Your post reminded me of an article I read in WSJ a few weeks back -

"In the information age, so much is worked on in a day at the office but so little gets done. In the past, people could see the fruits of their labor immediately: a chair made or a ball bearing produced. But it can be hard to find gratification from work that is largely invisible, or from delivering goods that are often metaphorical. You can't even leave your mark on a document in increasingly paperless offices. It can be even harder trying to measure it all. That may explain why to-do listers write down tasks they've already completed just to be able to cross them off."

Read the full article here.

It echoes my thoughts on this subject.