Michael Peitler

About relevant effects of subjectivated work

Since the 1980s the constitution of employment in the industrialized societies is changing basically. An important aspect in this context is the subjectivation of work. This development affects various groups of employees quite differently. In the following the concept of subjectivation of work will be described in its basic aspects. Then the main chances and risks of subjectivation will be discussed, with emphasis on the risks for employees.

Generally ‘subjectivation’ is the process in which “… historic concrete subjectives – so individually different – attainments or acts are becoming increasingly functional for society”.  Formerly seen as disturbing factors that should be eliminated, subjective potentials are increasingly identified as factors of success. Examples herefore are creativity, flexibility, empathy and emotionality. For the working environment it is essential, that since the 1990’s the ‘subjective factor’ became more and more important in the working process as well as in the sociological debates.

From the corporate point the requirements to the employees concerning their individual characteristics, actions and interpretations are growing. From the point of the staff members, the claim to bring in more individual behavior is getting more important. These as ‘subjectivation of work’ characterised developments imply a new form of subjectivity in the context of employment. That means a new requirement and a new potential factor of motivation for the individual subject.

At large the subjectivation of work can have ambivalent impacts to people. More freedom can also imply more pressure, more self-determination is attended by new restraints. The main chances of subjectivation of work from the individuals’ point of view are greater scopes: Possibilities of participation and self-development, Decline of external control and restraints, Realisation of individual interests and orientations, New possibilities concerning the arrangement of work and life, Segmentation of employees, Increasing requirements and higher pressure to perform, Growing uncertainties and precarity.

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