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Reading List

I Do Not Dream of Labour: A Reading List

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After a year of seismic changes in the labour market, young adults are questioning and rejecting the ideas around work that they have been fed throughout their lives, starting with the “dream job”, hustle culture, and #girlboss feminism. Many creators have made YouTube videos essays examining their own changing views on work such as Alice Cappelle and anattynook, and the phrase ‘I have no dream job, I do not dream of labour’ has become a launching pad for these discussions around shorter working weeks, anti-capitalist feminism, and envisioning a world without work.  

We have curated a radical reading list that responds to these ideas and offers ways of reframing what work is, in order to imagine fairer and more fulfilling ways of living. 

We are told that the future of work will be increasingly automated. Algorithms, processing massive amounts of information at startling speed, will lead us to a new world of effortless labour and a post-work utopia of ever expanding leisure. But behind the gleaming surface stands millions of workers, often in the Global South, manually processing data for a pittance.

Work Without the Worker reveals the brutal truth behind our automated futures and the new world of work.

A radical and pragmatic manifesto for tackling the interconnected crises of contemporary capitalism: work, care and the environment. The time we spend at work is neither natural nor inevitable. Instead the amount of time we spend working is a political, cultural and economic question. 

A bold manifesto for life after capitalism. Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams demand a postcapitalist economy capable of advancing standards, liberating humanity from work and developing technologies that expand our freedoms.

Breaking Things at Work is an innovative rethinking of labour and machines. Leaping from textile mills to algorithms, Mueller argues that the future stability and empowerment of working-class movements will depend on subverting these technologies and preventing their spread wherever possible.

Erik Olin Wright has distilled decades of work into a concise and tightly argued manifesto analysing the varieties of anti-capitalism, assessing different strategic approaches, and laying the foundations for a society dedicated to human flourishing.

Kate Soper offers an urgent plea for a new vision of the good life, one that is capable of delinking prosperity from endless growth. Instead, Soper calls for renewed emphasis on the joys of being that are currently being denied, and shows the way to creating a future that allows not only for more free time, and less conventional and more creative ways of using it, but also for fairer and more fulfilling ways of working and existing.

In Automation and the Future of Work, Aaron Benanav uncovers the structural economic trends that will shape our working lives far into the future. What social movements, he asks, are required to propel us into post-scarcity, if technological innovation alone can’t deliver it? In response to calls for a universal basic income that would maintain a growing army of redundant workers, he offers a counter-proposal.

McCluskey explains how being a trade unionist means putting equality at work and in society front and centre, fighting for an end to discrimination, and to inequality in wages and power.

Bastani conjures a vision of extraordinary hope, showing how we move to energy abundance, feed a world of 9 billion, overcome work, transcend the limits of biology, and establish meaningful freedom for everyone. 

Say the word “work,” and most people think of some form of gainful employment. Yet this limited definition has never corresponded to the historical experience of most people—whether in colonies, developing countries, or the industrialized world.

Taking as its inspiration the new wave of feminist militancy that has erupted globally, this manifesto makes a simple but powerful case: feminism shouldn’t start—or stop—with the drive to have women represented at the top of their professions. It must focus on those at the bottom, and fight for the world they deserve. And that means targeting capitalism. Feminism must be anticapitalist, eco-socialist and antiracist. 

“Juno Mac and Molly Smith decline to engage in the typical back and forth that drones on between the would-be saviors, the scolds, and the glorifiers to go to the heart of the matter—sex work as labor, with a work force ready to speak their minds and fight for their rights. They avoid easy answers and ask the reader to rethink sex work.” – Susie Bright, author of Big Sex Little Death: A Memoir

“Crucial reading ... for all those who have ever punched a clock.”—International Labor and Working Class History

What if the organising principle of our society was care instead of profit?

"Read this and move from a scarcity/charity mindset to one of abundant solidarity!” – adrienne maree brown, author of Pleasure Activism