Dr Mariano Zukerfeld is a researcher at National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET), Buenos Aires, Argentina. Whilst based at WIAS (3 April 2017 – 31 May 2017), Mariano will be working on a project focusing on the exploitation of online teachers in informational capitalism.
What is your research project about?
Although in both the traditional face-to-face and online modalities the teachers who create contents could be exploited, for the purposes of this project it is interesting to draw attention to the fact that in each case a different type of exploitation predominates: in the face-to-face modality, exploitation through alienation (based on the unpaid appropriation of units of labour time) is exercised; while in contrast, for the online modality, exploitation through reproduction takes shape (based on the unpaid codification of knowledge and the direct ownership of this knowledge by the company).
The general objective of this project is to contribute to a theory of exploitation in informational capitalism by means of a characterisation of the exploitation through reproduction that takes place in formal and non-formal for-profit post-secondary education in the case of Latin America in a comparative study with the UK.
The specific objectives include:
1. Theoretically discussing the concept of exploitation through reproduction in the framework of a materialist theory of capitalist exploitation.
1. Comparing the situation in Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, Chile, and the UK in relation to the exploitation through reproduction of teachers in the following dimensions:
2.1 The degree of advancement of formal and non-formal for-profit post-secondary education: numbers of students, companies, teachers, salary levels, regulatory features (contracts, legal framework, legal conflicts).
2.2 Positioning of labour union actors with regards to the regulation of online education.
2.3 Teachers’ representations regarding the comparison between the magnitudes of value contributed and received.
Besides the theoretical and empirical objectives, I hope to produce a political contribution: conceptualising virtual education through exploitation through reproduction might be important for teachers (and the institutions that bring them together) as, generally speaking, they do not discern with much clarity the nature of the social relationships in which they are embedded, nor how to deal with them legally.
The limitations of the teachers’ economic and political analysis arise from a (tacitly) theoretical issue: they are accustomed to associating value (and in the last instance their income, salaries etc.) with their work time. However, in the production of informational goods it is evident that capitalist profits do not only or mainly depend upon teachers’ working hours.
What are you looking forward to during your stay at WIAS?
I look forward to discussing theories and empirical data with the staff and other fellows. I hope to extend these debates beyond the specific aims and scope of our particular research projects. I would also like to attend to workshops and seminars.