While researching articles about Autonomist Feminists, I came across various texts that describe their contribution to the capitalist society. My goal in this paper is to respond to two research questions. My first research question refers to the unwaged labor of Web 2.0. My second research question refers to how the Autonomist Feminist contributes to the capitalist economy. To achieve my goal, I have organized my paper into four main sections.
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In the first section, I give a brief background of the autonomist feminist. In the second section, I explain the concept of Web 2.0. In the third section, I discuss the Autonomist Feminist about the unwaged labor of Web 2.0. I conclude my paper with a fourth section, which outlines the similarities between the autonomist feminist and Web 2.0.
The word autonomist is derived from a Greek word which means ‘living by your own rule” (Cote & Pybus 90). Autonomy involves living with the community. It also refers to following a set of self-made rules. No man is an island. Many feminist approaches have looked at how autonomy should be created and presented within the social context (Cote & Pybus 37).
Autonomist feminists focus on the work of individuals. This work has the power to influence the community. Autonomist Marxism focuses on activities that stop the working class from meeting their deadlines. These activities include sickness, working at a slow pace, and socializing at work. Just like other Marxists, autonomists find the struggle of social classes to be critical. “Initial theorists like Mario Tronti, Antonio Negri, Sergio Bologna, and Paolo Virni argue that wealth is produced through collective efforts that are not accounted for” (Hardt and Negri 97).
They assert that domestic workers are the unappreciated driving force of the capitalist market. They recognize the importance of women who contribute to the capitalist society (Hardt and Negri 91). They also recognize feminism as an integral part of the capitalist society. Homemakers are responsible for the unwaged labor of the capitalist economy. Some scholars argue that it is not a contributing factor in the capitalist environment.
Domestic labor is, however, one of the wheels that drive the capitalist market. Such roles can be defined in a common household. A working husband represents a capitalist laborer. A homemaker represents the domestic laborer. The wife is also a part of the capitalist market because she performs household chores. She creates a conducive environment for her husband to live in. In this particular situation, the wife also provides the husband with an opportunity to exercise his power. Unpaid labor is therefore an important part of the capitalist society.
The Unwaged Labor of Web 2.0
Web 2.0 is defined as the use of web-based technology to secure the free and steady flow of information (Cohen 2). The internet is a platform through which the world is connected (Braverman 1). It is a limitless archive of data. It is a dynamic field of information. The web is the world’s largest communication tool.
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Web 2.0 is characterized by its websites (Braverman 1). These sites enable users to retrieve, create, and customize large bundles of information (Cohen 1). These sites are indiscriminate. They allow visitors to contribute to their growth and expansion.
O’Reilly (1) argues that Web 2.0 can be used to build social networks. Chatrooms and blogs are advanced platforms that can be used for communication. Users are at liberty to contribute to such websites. They are not compensated for their services. They provide the world with free and seamless information. They are the wageless laborers of the digital economy. O’Reilly (1) describes Web 2.0 as an interactive library.
The concept enables users to facilitate the rapid flow of information. Capitalists profit from this particular model. Profits are not shared among a large number of contributors (Bauwens 1). Scholars have argued that search engines like Google and Netscape represent Web 2.0 and Web 1.0 respectively (Cote 1). Google was like a domestic spouse. Everyone could use the search engine without having to pay for the services it offered.
As the internet became more broad and complex, Google began to exploit the resources at its disposal. Google now charges for advertising. Companies that use their hostname must pay for their services. Google is now recognized as an invaluable tool in an otherwise complex environment. According to Bruni (1), blogs and chatrooms are synonymous with homemakers. They employ certain principles of production that are evident within the capitalist environment.
Homemakers and domestic workers employ the same principles as Google. They are invaluable members of a capitalist environment. They contribute to a market dominated by professionals.
Autonomist Feminists and Their Contribution to Capitalism
A homemaker can meet both the psychological and sexual needs of her husband. She, therefore, contributes to the capitalist society. The contributions of a homemaker are both important and unique. The assumption that unwaged labor is unproductive is false. The domestic laborer is an integral part of the capitalist economy. There are duties that only a spouse can perform. Marriage is a partnership. It can be compared to a contract between two parties. As s result, people work and marry for the same reasons. They do it for social status (Sky 1).
Wageless workers depend on those who are employed. Wageless workers, most of whom are women, depending on the waged workers for capital. Capitalist employees share a bond with their domestic counterparts. They are codependent parties in the sphere of capitalism (Kleiner 27). However, waged workers have been known to exploit domestic workers. In the context of a family, the man fails to acknowledge the contributions of his wife.
“World Bank and IMF’s efforts to strengthen economies through SAPs (Structural Adjustment Programmes) had combined debt servicing and the restructuring of agriculture and manufacturing thus leading to a rise in the cost of living” (Foucalt 794). They have also led to a reduction in salaries. Structural Adjustment Programmes encourage the government to sell certain companies to private owners. Structural Adjustment Programmes have also encouraged governments to cut down on social expenditure. Natural resources have been over-exploited.
According to Hardt and Negri (91), “the working class can bring about changes in a capitalist system without involving the state, trade unions, or political organizations”. Autonomists encourage individual organizations instead of political organizations
Earning a salary gives a person purchasing power. Some salaries do not meet the needs of consumers. A small salary cannot meet all the material needs of a worker. Likewise, capital cannot meet the psychological and sexual needs of an individual (Lazarato 30). Psychological and sexual needs are an important component in a domestic environment (Lazarato 30). People have been known to marry for the sake of social status. ‘Homemaker’ is a noble and timeless concept. It is a concept that has been part of the capitalist economy since the dawn of humankind.
Wageless labor receives little attention even though it is important. Society cannot function if certain domestic needs are not met. The capitalist economy can be compromised if it fails to recognize the contribution of wageless labor. Some organizations are notorious for sex discrimination. They should employ a less chauvinistic approach to capitalism.
Women tend to earn less than their male counterparts do. This issue should have been resolved a long time ago. Women who carry out domestic labor should strive to work outside the home as well. Working outside the home allows them to meet other women. This encourages them to interact. Women should find strategies that will enable them to work outside the home. This will ensure that household work is not confined to women. It will also ensure that their work is recognized and valued by other people outside the home.
Volunteers also contribute to the capitalist environment. Volunteer work is also a form of labor. A volunteer may be involved in work that generates capital for a company. The capital can be used to pay other people’s salaries. Wageless laborers are unappreciated. They are part of the structure that defines capitalism. Capitalism is like a house and wageless labor is its foundation.
Unwaged labor, in the case of a student, is like an investment (Cote & Pybus 34). If a student acquires knowledge, he will use that knowledge to seek employment. The period of study was one in which the student’s labor was not paid for. The period of study has no wage for a student. After the student acquires knowledge, he can benefit from the capitalist market. Students are likely to make more money than they spend on education. Students are important members of society. They are groomed to join the workforce. They are part of a never-ending cycle. Capitalism integrates education to ensure professionalism in the world market.
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Web-based technology has given rise to a new breed of wageless individuals. The capitalist economy is dominated by an infinite field of information. Many scholars have argued that computers are the housewives of tomorrow. Computers are, in fact, an extension of the autonomist feminist model. The unwaged labor of Web 2.0 is synonymous with the social structure that defines the autonomist feminist. They are both vital to capitalist development. The free flow of information is akin to the domestic needs provided by the autonomist female.
Theorists have argued that technology has the potential to replace the domestic spouse. Decades later, autonomists remain adamant. Web 2.0 is a dynamic concept that gives rise to new forms of communication. However, autonomists are irreplaceable. During the late 60s, scholars argued that technology would replace the autonomist model of social behavior (Lazzarato 87). This model has been the backbone of society for eons. Spartan women were the descendants of other autonomist feminists (Costa 30). They provided the insurmountable services that made their nation great. Their army was undisputed because they used this system. Though technology is constantly changing, the autonomist model remains the same. The industrial era did not outshine the autonomist system. It provided the model with new applications.
Capitalism is not confined to the workplace (Costa 46). The unwaged labor that takes place in the household is a major contributor to the field of capitalism (Costa 49). In developing countries like Pakistan, women exploit natural resources. They do this by cultivating land for staple purposes. This is a small part of the larger industrial process. Pakistani women urge the government to provide their families with social amenities.
These resources are available to both the worker and his family. A robotic workforce does not drive society. Human beings are social creatures. One person always depends on another. The middle class consists of men and women with homes and families. Social structures are the cornerstone of the capitalist environment. A man works to feed his family. His children grow up and later join the workforce. The autonomist feminist model acknowledges capitalism as an endless cycle. All parts of the cycle are important. If everyone worked to fend for him or herself, society’s structure would crumble.
Web 2.0 functions under the same conditions. The internet is a field of resources waiting to be exploited. The wageless individuals who operate this field can be compared to the women of rural Pakistan. They also contribute to the capitalist market. They exploit the resources at their disposal. Countless others use these resources.
Nearly eighty-five percent of the world’s population consists of peasant farmers, artisans, and domestic workers (Foucault 789). These individuals are part of the capitalist environment. They are neither blue nor white-collar workers. The capitalist model must therefore be discussed about this large number of people (Costa 49). The capitalist model is not confined to the few individuals who work in offices and factories (Lazarato 92).
A homemaker provides her husband with psychological support (Foucalt 789). She works 12 to 14 hours a day. Dalla Costa (56) argues that housework should not be restricted to women. Domestic responsibilities are not confined to specific gender groups. Capitalists should therefore recognize the importance of the domestic labor force. Web 2.0 operatives are the homemakers of the modern age. They work like mules to service the needs of other users.
Domestic workers and homemakers work harder than field workers do. They are not entitled to a fixed salary. There is little hope of diversifying their skills. They do not take vacations. Concisely, they are underappreciated. They are hardly ever compensated for their hard work. They are society’s driving force. They keep the wheels of capitalism turning. Some scholars assume that feminists are not progressive. This is a misguided assumption.
They sift through endless fields of information. Sky (1) asserts the following; “If the theoretical base in leisure studies is representative and not intentionally sectarian (masculinist), feminists in the field could assume that feminist work is welcome in juxtaposition to other existent leisure theory. In the last few years, there is some evidence that feminist contributions to theory have been recognized within the field (e.g. feminist special editions of journals). However, because of the origins and type of developments in feminist theory, most commentaries and research contributions in leisure studies have represented predominantly liberal and leftist feminist perspectives.
Such work establishes a juxtaposition between established feminist theory (liberal/leftist), leisure theory (often also liberal/leftist), and woman as a topic. Other feminist positions like the autonomist orientation are less often presented. Nevertheless, their placement in reserved tangency to these discourses rather than apposition is valuable because of their low dependence on sociopolitical patriarchal traditions” (Sky 1).
A working-class family can put more pressure on a homemaker than a middle-class family. The autonomist feminist approach is evident in the developing world. A mother who has several children is forced to delegate responsibilities. Some third world homemakers have been known to give birth while tending to a field of produce.
Domestic workers are probably the most productive workers in the world. They provide the most basic needs. They also pave the way for professionals. An intelligent person with a bright idea cannot create the mechanisms that make his concept real. Domestic workers provide the means to sustain such ideas. A man cannot work before he replenishes his physical reserves. The industrial sphere should not take autonomist feminists for granted.
Large companies that produce household items should acknowledge the importance of the people that use them. Organizations earn their revenue from the homemakers that demand their products. Domestic laborers add value to the capitalist market.
Factory workers and business moguls alone do not control the world. Without domestic consumers, the capitalist market ceases to function. Domestic labor should not be viewed as menial. It is the backbone of society. Moral values are instilled in the home. Domestic hierarchies define social structures. The man provides the capital to sustain the family. The wife uses the capital to feed her husband and her children. It is important to note that such roles are interchangeable. Domestic responsibilities should not be restricted to women. In the capitalist environment, responsibility is collective.
Capitalism is governed by a system of collective responsibility. It consists of producers, manufacturers, and consumers (Foucalt 789). Producers extract the product from its natural environment (Costa 59). Manufacturers prepare the product for human consumption. Consumers buy the finished product.
Capitalism cannot exist without accounting for all its instruments of production (Cote 74). Web 2.0 serves to complement the autonomist feminist. Web 2.0 acknowledges the importance of collective responsibility. Websites have gatekeepers. These gatekeepers regulate the flow of information. Wiki sites also have gatekeepers.
Capitalists encourage workers to compete (Smith 33). Domestic environments are not subject to the capitalist model (Cohen 28). Families do not function under the leadership of a sole provider. Children represent a father’s legacy. A homemaker represents the functionality of the home. Every member should be treated with respect. The capitalist model, however, treats its laborers like part of an economic hierarchy.
Everyone benefits from the resources of a capitalist environment (Dyer 109). Nevertheless, domestic spouses remain unappreciated. Homemakers cook and clean for their husbands. Their hard work ensures that the family functions like a well-oiled machine.
Women are the world’s largest category of consumers. This is ironic because they are often the victims of oversight. Society often fails to recognize their capacity for economic growth. As consumers, they buy the most products. As sex symbols, they sell the most products. Society tends to exploit them by creating unreasonable stereotypes. Women should not be confined to the kitchen (Hardt and Negri 93). They have limitless potential. Much like web 2.0 operatives, domestic workers are entitled to a certain form of compensation (Witheford 67).
According to Braverman (97), 61 percent of married women constitute the United States Labour force. Costa (62) asserts that domestic spouses are a major part of the capitalist economy. Women are no longer confined to their homes. They are also part of the capitalist labor force (Cote 26). They constitute two-thirds of the world’s population. Women are therefore the strongest driving force behind the global market.
Capitalists argue that women are responsible for the falling job market. This is a false assumption. Women have always been the largest contributors to the capitalist economy. They spend more money on social amenities than their male counterparts do. Domestic spouses know more about the home’s budget than their working partners do.
The autonomist feminist model proves that the homemaker is also an integral part of society. Its arguments are based on principles that have existed since before the industrial era. Even though society has embraced women in the capitalist workforce, they still earn less than their male counterparts do. According to an international survey, carried out in several developing countries, 59 percent of homemakers have part-time jobs (Hardt and Negri 97).
A single mother is therefore likely to earn less than her male counterpart (Foucault 64) is. Capitalism should embrace diversity. Women are entitled to the same needs as men. Traditional family roles are interchangeable. A single father can raise his children. A mother can work in her husband’s stead (Costa 56). Structures should be put in place to ensure that the autonomist feminist prospers within the capitalist economy (Foucault 57).
According to Sky (1), the autonomist model can “admit or reject portions of work, to develop points of crossover and points of intellectual resistance, without deference to masculinist ideology.” It outlines the importance of both the homemaker and the employed worker. The autonomist model recognizes a system of collective responsibility. This system is governed by the principle that all members of society contribute to its overall development.
Web 2.0 users should also be recognized as hard-working members of the capitalist society (Bruns, 1). Their unwaged labor is also an integral part of society’s development. They are the backbone of the internet. They provide other users with a bulk of information. Their cause is ceaseless and noble. Structures should be put in place to compensate them for their hard work and determination.
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