The critique of modern work has often sat at the centre of emancipatory politics and imaginings of life beyond capitalism. However, work is increasingly less a central point of reference in the emergence of new political subjects or the expression of antagonistic judgments. Reflecting on my research focused on struggles in the city of Johannesburg, the paper suggests that we need to go beyond a work centred political and practical imagination in order to grasp the heterogeneous strategies through which value is produced and appropriated under conditions of contemporary capitalism. And this might also allow us to better see the new forms of subjectivity emerging with the struggles of exploited and oppressed subjects today.
Dr Ahmed Veriava is a researcher, writer and sometimes activist who lives in Johannesburg. He also works at the University of Witwatersrand teaching political theory. His current research is focused on the political mobilisations of the city's poor and how these have shaped the development and transformation of governmental practice.