Working Life

What does it mean to be the children of Marx and Zoom?

"“The labor process becomes an arena of class conflict and the workplace becomes a contested terrain." Richard C. Edwards

Working Life


This work is an attempt to broadly review the historical transformation of workplace control, in order to understand recent forms of control encapsulated by the “activity-based workplace” model in high commitment organizations. It uses two new office buildings in Johannesburg as suggestive (but not conclusive) illustrations to highlight how this new workplace set-up bolsters managerial control by blurring the distinction between work and life (while proclaiming to be more free and laidback). In the broader context of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that is changing the world of work, we suggest that the shift to home-working (for mostly white-collar workers) represents the final colonization of work over life.

Launch Project




Richard Edwards, Contested Terrain: The Transformation of the Workplace in the Twentieth Century (New York: Basic Books, 1979), 16.