After Work: Questions concerning transition imaginaries towards a post-work society and the use of cautionary tales as frames that resist consensus

Dulmini Perera

The consensus among various stakeholders of society that automation will influence the future of work has risen considerably in the post-Corona context. Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, who are critical of how a minority uses consensus about facts to maintain an existing common sense (a fiction) around the concepts of work and labour, suggest that a counter-hegemonic project is possible only by embracing the potential of automation and a Universal Basic Income. This requires a new common sense collectively established via the workers whose very work lives are at stake within these post-work futures. In their call for a ‘new common sense,’ they undermine the problems related to ‘difference’ in sense-making processes when working with systemic issues (wicked problems), particularly the struggles of the stakeholders with conflicting value systems and problematic mental models trying to make sense of the transformation process in which they are entangled. The project “After work” addresses the need to look at sense-making and difference not by appealing to common sense but rather by addressing the elements that do not make sense and cause tensions within the system. Cautionary tales, with their ability to frame ‘fact’ and ‘fiction’ in a complex manner, are introduced as a methodological tool where the stakeholders can frame and reframe the differences as it appears as tensions within the transformation.

Keywords: wicked problems, difference, cautionary tales, fact, fiction

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Posted September 2021

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Author(s) (20##). Article title. Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design (RSD#) Symposium.