David G. Khumaryan

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

Dmitrii M. Zhikharevich


Ilya A. Konovalov

National Research University Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia

From editor
This introduction looks at the state of the field in the sociology of work and attempts to offer a general summary of the papers presented in this Special Issue. “New Studies of Labor” (NSL) make virtually no use of the theoretical resources of the 20th century’s industrial sociology and try to sustain the focus on the labor process and the forms of its organization. They also differ from the contemporary literature on work and occupations which focuses on career mobility, labor markets, and income determination. Conceptually, the NSL rely on theoretical traditions that originate beyond sociology’s disciplinary boundaries: Marxist value theory, Italian Autonomist thought, and Foucauldian studies of organizations. As different from the vast anthropological and sociological literature devoted to detailed empirical analyses of ‘work’ and its different sites, the NSL start from the question about how a specific ‘work’ is being inscribed into the processes of value production and capital accumulation, thus also becoming abstract labor. Such an approach assumes that the boundary that divides ‘labor’ from ‘nonlabor’ is a structural feature of the capitalist mode of production, being at the same time negotiated in the social struggles for recognition and articulated in the objective processes of value production. Thus, labor is seen as a fundamental category of capitalist production, even though its empirical content is historically variable. The first part of this introduction offers an outline of the theoretical traditions most relevant for making sense of the NSL. It then proceeds with a brief overview of industrial sociology/sociology of work and its shortcomings. The introduction concludes with an overview of the papers collected in this Special Issue.
Keywords: labor, work, sociology of work, new studies of labor, Marxism, Operaismo, the Foucault Effect, Marxist sociology, value theory, social theory, political economy