Aaron Benanav: A World without Work: The Global Jobs Crisis in Historical Context

Tuesday February 16th 7-9pm at 208 Blackburn.

The International Labor Organization, the UN agency that focuses on labor issues, has declared that a “global jobs crisis” is taking place with negative consequences for hundreds of millions of the world’s workers. I argue that this crisis must be analyzed not only in relation to the recent global financial crisis, but also, more fundamentally, in relation to global developmental processes that have been unfolding since at least World War II. The processes I analyze include the following great transformations: (1) the worldwide demographic and urban transitions, (2) a global “Green Revolution,” and, (3) since the 1970s, industrial overcapacity leading to a global wave of deindustrialization. These developments led to both a rising oversupply of labor and a persistent under-demand for labor, which together generated an expanding global surplus labor force. This analysis aims to be more comprehensively transnational and historical in its account of the present situation while also providing a necessary framework for understanding transformations in employment structures as they are likely to develop over the next couple of decades.


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