Frederick Harry Pitts

Frederick Harry Pitts
University of Bristol | UB · Department of Management

About

71
Publications
2,874
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204
Citations
Introduction
I am an academic writing, researching and teaching about the politics of work futures and economic transformation. I am based in the Work, Employment, Organisation & Public Policy group at University of Bristol School of Management, where I am Theme Champion for Work Futures, lead the Faculty of Social Sciences & Law Research Group for Perspectives on Work and co-edit the Bristol University Press online magazine Futures of Work.

Publications

Publications (71)
Article
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This article locates the emergence of new thinking on the left around work, age and assets within the lineage of ‘class composition’ analysis arising from the autonomist movement in mid-twentieth century Italy. With reference to contemporary debates around electoral and political strategy within the Labour Party, the article critically appraises th...
Chapter
Sensing a world of post-work opportunity lurking in an age of crisis, today ‘postcapitalist’ utopias proliferate that see a way out of the present through an escape from work. Using critical theory to unpick the political economy of contemporary work and its futures, this book mounts a forceful critique of fashionable thinking about the possibility...
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Creative labour is often characterised as hard to measure and manage. As 'immaterial labour', it breaches the working day's boundaries and produces uncertain outputs. These conditions, claim postoperaists, precipitate a 'crisis of measurability'. Drawing on 33 interviews with workers at 10 graphic, brand and strategic design agencies in the UK and...
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This article places the Labour Party's present post-Corbyn renewal in the context of previous periods of renewal in the party's recent history, associating with the new leadership of Keir Starmer a potential to rediscover the strategic project of the pluralist 'soft' left as an alternative to the 'programmatic' character of the hard left. After ass...
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This chapter surveys the theoretical roots of the antisemitism crisis associated with the British Labour Party since Jeremy Corbyn's accession to power in 2015, specifically with reference to the notion of capitalism as a 'rigged system' imposed by the unproductive on the productive. Drawing on heterodox Marxian critical theory, the chapter suggest...
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Drawing on interviews with freelancers and creatives at graphic design, branding and advertising agencies in London and Amsterdam, this paper explores the pressures placed upon the management and performance of creative labour by sectoral and geographical contradictions centred on the urban dynamics of the creative industries. It suggests that what...
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This chapter explores so-called expat agencies in the graphic design, branding and advertising sectors in the Netherlands, the young British ‘flexpatriates’ and self-initiated expatriates who staff them, and the different pathways into creative labour their expatriation represents. Hybrid local–global spaces are marked by the mobility of people and...
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There has been a proliferating literature on postcapitalist and post‐work futures in recent years, underpinned by policy proposals like the basic income and a reduction in working hours. It has gained increasing uptake within left electoral politics and policy making. The generational potency of these ideas require that we understand their theoreti...
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This article introduces the special issue on the politics of postcapitalism. Considering the theoretical foundations, empirical perspectives and political ramifications of claims made about a coming ‘post‐work’ or ‘postcapitalist’ society, it maps existing debates through a discussion of two key recent texts, Paul Mason’s Clear Bright Future and Aa...
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Responding to recent debates, this article challenges the presentation of Corbynism and Blue Labour as competing philosophical tendencies in the contemporary British Labour Party. It does so with reference to their shared mobilisation around post-liberal and national-populist notions of the relationship between nations, states, society, citizens an...
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In this reply to Maurice Glasman and Jonathan Rutherford’s response to the authors’ earlier critical comparison of Corbynism and Blue Labour, the authors clarify and further develop three core components of the original critique, covering, respectively, (1) identity politics and identity liberalism; (2) agonism and abstraction; and (3) Marxism and...
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This article surveys The Norman Geras Reader: ‘What’s There is There’, a recent collection of the work of Norman Geras, edited by Eve Garrard and Ben Cohen. The article explores the relevance of Geras’s attempted reconciliation between liberalism and Marxism to some of the key issues confronting the contemporary left: foreign policy and the failure...
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Today there is a proliferation of wearable and app-based technologies for self-quantification and self-tracking. This article explores the potential of an Open Marxist reading of Henri Lefebvre’s rhythmanalysis to understand data as an appearance assumed by the quantitative abstraction of everyday life, which negates a qualitative disjuncture betwe...
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Proponents recommend Universal Basic Income as a solution to a trifold crisis of work, wage and social democracy. Synthesising Marxian form analysis with Marxist-feminist social reproduction theory, this article suggests that these crises relate to historically specific capitalist social forms: labour, money and the state. These separate but interl...
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This conceptual paper traces the origins and progress of Open Science and proposes its generative coupling to Open Innovation in the contemporary socio‐political context; where universities are re‐imaging their civic missions in the face of anti‐establishment populist politics. This setting is one of changing knowledge production regimes and instit...
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In this paper, we suggest that not enough attention is being paid to the place of political contestation and antagonism in terms of how SDGs are being rolled out as part of a broader consensual, liberal geo-politics under conditions of contemporary neoliberal capitalism. In particular, we argue for more consideration of the significance of the SSE...
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This chapter presents empirical findings to oppose the discourses of liberation presented in postoperaist accounts of ‘immaterial labour’ and their modern proponents. It suggests that for creative labour the potential for creativity exists only in denial: capitalist development alone will not deliver fulfilled work. There must be struggle to recapt...
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This article contests the suggestion that the automation of production and the provision of a basic income potentiate the transition from a post‐work to a postcapitalist society. This vista—mainly represented by the work of Paul Mason and Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams misses how capitalist work is both preconditioned by a historically‐specific set...
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This chapter surveys the philosophical and theoretical foundations of Antonio Negri’s postoperaist conceptualisation of a crisis in the law of value. Central to this is Negri’s turn from Marx to Spinoza. The chapter begins by outlining the shift from operaismo to postoperaismo in Negri’s work and the wider tradition. It then considers how, in the d...
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Introducing the New Reading of Marx and postoperaismo, this chapter considers the critique of capitalism at a time when Marx’s theory of value is called into question and the promise of a postcapitalist utopia captures the public and political imagination. It situates the New Reading of Marx within existing work on the labour theory of value, and p...
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Using Werner Bonefeld’s theorisation of the social constitution of capitalist society in class antagonism, this chapter considers the critique of political economy as a critical theory of society that uncovers the concrete social relations concealed within value’s abstract social form. This centres on Bonefeld’s critique of the conceptualisation of...
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Approaching labour as an object of inquiry in light of the New Reading of Marx’s theory of the value-form, this chapter analyses how what goes on in the workplace relates to what goes on in the market. Value assumes a succession of what Richard Gunn calls ‘modes of existence’ in the valorisation process, of which the labour process is just a carrie...
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This chapter confronts the concept of immaterial labour through an analysis of an archetypal example: creative industries like advertising, branding and graphic design. Interrogating Andrea Fumagalli’s account of the value added by immaterial labour’s ‘general intellect’, it suggests that both traditional Marxist and postoperaist notions of circula...
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Considering the implications of the New Reading of Marx’s ‘monetary theory of value’, this chapter explores how thinkers in and influential upon this theoretical perspective have conceptualised money as constituting a materialist version of the Kantian schematism bringing all things into an abstract social relation with all other things by means of...
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This chapter charts the differing interpretations of how value relates to labour within the New Reading of Marx and so-called ‘embodied labour’ approaches. The chapter first surveys the attempts to get to grips with value in the classical political economy of Smith and Ricardo, and the specificity of Marx’s critique. The chapter then outlines the d...
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Postoperaists extrapolate from the advent of contemporary ‘immaterial labour’ a crisis of measurability synonymous with a crisis in the law of value. This chapter reveals such claims to deny the Marxian theory of value only through recourse to its most traditional interpretation, holding value to relate not the social validation of abstract labour...
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This chapter assesses the significance of Marx’s Fragment on Machines, a few pages of his notebooks for Capital, the Grundrisse, for the development of the postoperaist prospectus of incipient communism and capitalist collapse. It begins by evaluating how the discovery of the Fragment chimes with the analysis of empirical changes in capitalist labo...
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Assessing the political consequences of the postoperaist extrapolation from immediate changes in the content of labour the possibility of an incipient communism and capitalism’s imminent collapse, this chapter surveys the reception of postoperaist thinking in presently popular visions of a technology-aided postcapitalist future disseminated in best...
Book
This book critically introduces and compares two of the most compelling contemporary schools of Marxist thought: the German Neue Marx-Lekture, or New Reading of Marx, and Italian postoperaismo. In so doing, it radically updates our understanding of the key categories of Marx’s critique of political economy- including value, money, labour, class and...
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The year 2017 marks 45 years since the first English publication of Marx’s ‘Notes on machines’ in Economy and Society. This paper critiques how Marx’s ‘Fragment’ has subsequently been repurposed in postoperaist thought, and how this wields influence on contemporary left thinking via the work of Paul Mason. Changes in labour lead proponents to posit...
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In this reflection, we assess the theoretical faultline running through the contested current of Corbynist thought and politics at present. On one hand, we find a techno-utopian strand preoccupied with automation and the end of work. On the other hand, a nascent politics of social reproduction with a foreshortened potential to realise the promise o...
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This article critiques post-operaist conceptualisations of immaterial labour from the perspective of Marxian value-form theory. Critiquing the idea of the ?crisis of measurability? created by immaterial labour and the contention that this makes redundant the law of value, it contests the novelty, immediate abstractness and immeasurable productivity...
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European labour markets currently fail millions for whom they cannot provide work, and millions more who must face job insecurity, underemployment, stagnant wages or poverty pay. The forces which have served to weaken our labour markets include political failure, globalization, technological change, labour union decline and the increasing power of...
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Freelancers work for companies, but also apart from them?at home, on-site, or in shared workspaces. This chapter examines how clients and freelancers manage the employment relationship at a distance. Utilising interview data with Dutch creative freelancers, Lefebvre?s method of ?rhythmanalysis?, Nitzan and Bichler?s theory of ?capital as power?, an...
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In Representing Capital, Fredric Jameson distinguishes two stages of inquiry present within Marx's magnum opus. The first is the critique of the equation. The second is the phenomenology of production. The distinction suggests compelling methodological applications. This review explores some implications for the analysis of capitalist social relati...
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This article utilises the new reading of Marx found in the work of Michael Heinrich to analyse the creative industries. It considers the role played in the production of value by the labour that takes place in the sphere of circulation. The specific focus is on creative industries such as graphic design, advertising and branding. It applies Heinric...
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In this article I craft a definition of the role of the creative industries through time and in their contemporary specificity. I consider some of the possible approaches to the situation of the creative industries vis-à-vis the rest of the economy. I steer a middle course through contemporary debates around whether, on the one hand, the economy is...
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In this chapter, I consider the role played in the operation of the law of value by what Marx calls the “work of combustion”. Marx uses this term to refer to the activities of circulation. I use the creative industries as an example, with a specific focus on graphic design, advertising and branding. I argue that such circulation activities bear a g...

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