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Keynes, Foucault and the 'disciplinary complex': A contribution to the analysis of work

Guizzo, Danielle; Stronge, Will


Danielle Guizzo

Will Stronge


Economists often agree that productivity and wealth levels rose sharply until the 2008 crash, particularly in the developed world (see inter alia Piketty & Saez, 2013; OECD, 2015). Such prosperity, however, still has not caused a significant reduction of the working week, which remains, on average, 40 hours a week in developed nations. This article deploys a critical examination of the longstanding utopia of a reduced working week. We propose a return to John Maynard Keynes’s economic reflections in early 20th century concerning the material possibilities for future generations, and how high productivity levels associated with new technological advances could, and should, allow individuals to reduce their workload without harming the economy. Whilst reviving Keynes’s reflections on the links between the economy and the lives of the population, we also introduce the (Foucaultian) concept of the ‘disciplinary complex’ and explore some of its explanatory potential. Finally, we suggest that in order to reach the ‘post-work’ world that Keynes predicted for us, we must consider the role of labour not just in economic terms, but also as a disciplinary institution that has its own inner cultural and practical mechanisms. Overcoming the disciplinary complex, and the work-centred society, therefore requires technological, economic but above all cultural and organisational overhaul.


Guizzo, D., & Stronge, W. (2018). Keynes, Foucault and the 'disciplinary complex': A contribution to the analysis of work

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 2, 2018
Online Publication Date Mar 2, 2018
Publication Date Mar 2, 2018
Deposit Date Mar 20, 2018
Publicly Available Date Apr 3, 2018
Journal Autonomy
Print ISSN 2515-9852
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Issue 02
Keywords working time, work relations, capitalism, discipline, work ethic, John Maynard Keynes, good life, Michel Foucault, post-work
Public URL
Publisher URL


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