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Post-work Ecologies: From ‘green jobs’ to ecological idleness

When: Thursday, June 8, 2023 - Friday, June 9, 2023, 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
Where: Queen Mary University of London, Mile End Road, London, E1 4NS


"Not just human life, but earthly life, is at stake in the contestation of work” (Daggett 2019: 196)

What should ‘work’ look like on a burning planet? Recent calls for ‘green jobs’ and a ‘green new deal’ suggest that the global crises of underemployment and ecological collapse can be addressed concurrently. Such calls have been critiqued from labourist perspectives for failing to transform exploitative modes of production and generate sufficient ‘decent work’. 

However, these critiques rarely confront the fundamental unsustainability of work-centred society and the need for a radical reimagining of the relationship between production, consumption, labour and ecology. Building on the recent provocations of Daggett (2019) and Hoffman & Frayne (2023), this workshop seeks to explore the ecological potential of postwork theory and praxis. Bringing together scholars from diverse geographical and epistemological locations, we aim to critically examine the social and ecological utility of different forms of work, redistribution and uncommodified activity; from ‘green jobs’ to ecological care and idleness.

Specifically, we invite contributions that seek to respond to the following questions:

  • What is the ecological value of postwork theory? What are the (dis)connections between ecological postwork theory and other modes of ecological thought?
  • What is the social and ecological utility of different forms of work and of alternative, non-productivist ways of spending time (including, but not limited to, ‘green jobs’, ecological livelihoods, ecological care and ecological idleness)?
  • What can we learn from actually-existing postwork ecologies in different regions of the world? To what extent are these able to transcend gendered and racialised modes of production?
  • How might we assess the ecological potential of different postwork interventions (including, but not limited to, redistributive mechanisms such as green energy dividends and ‘green basic income’, as well as alternative forms of value, time-use and multi-activity)?


Cara Daggett (Virginia Tech), David Frayne (University of Cambridge), Maja Hoffmann (Vienna University),  Maro Pantazidou (University of York), Mary Lawhon (University of Edinburgh), Mareile Pfannebecker, J.A. Smith (Royal Holloway), Mathias Levi Toft Kristiansen (MIT), Jakub Kowalewski (Birkbeck), Julia Corwin (LSE), Demet Dinler (University of Sussex), Ursula Balderson (Leeds University), Hannah Fair (University of Oxford), Matt McMullen, Liz Fouksman (Kings College), Will Stronge (Autonomy)

Indicative readings

Bhattacharyya, Gargi. (2018) Rethinking Racial Capitalism: Questions of Reproduction and Survival, London: Rowman & Littlefield

Daggett, Cara. (2019) The Birth of Energy: Fossil Fuels, Thermodynamics, and the Politics of Work. Durham: Duke University Press

Hoffmann, Maja & David Frayne (2023) Ecological Postwork Theory. In C. Overdevest (Ed.), Elgar Encyclopedia of Environmental Sociology. Edward Elgar Publishing

Lowhan, Mary & Tyler McCrearey (2023) Enough! A Modest Political Ecology for an Uncertain World, New York: Columbia University Press

Obeng-Odoom, Franklin (2021) The Commons in an Age of Uncertainty: Decolonizing Nature, Economy, and Society. Toronto: University of Toronto Press

Weeks, Kathi. (2011) The Problem With Work. Durham: Duke University Press

Further information

Please contact Will Monteith ( for further information about the event.

This workshop is a part of the IHSS Re-thinking Work Research Programme.

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