Thoughts On: Modern Labour – Sitting Culture

by Beauchamp Art

Media Representations of Class in an Information Economy; Between New Media and the Sitting; Cyber Class


In Modern office jobs, the worker sits; the Middle Classes do not care to stand in labour, but sojourn behind the desk. They must function as an extension of the digital interface with a human face, negotiating thoughtlessly into an encoded logic, systematically organising the disorder of humanity into linear formats that can be processed automatically and transcoded onto whichever formats are necessary. The office worker labours for the machine, whereas the factory worker labours with the machine, engages directly with the non-uniform public, and stands before them.

The Working Class individual may be considered successful when they sit to labour, to be in an even greater level of synchronicity than the artisan with their tools, in spite of wealth. The manual labourer, especially one that is self-employed within the private sector, (such as a private plumber) may be in a more financially prosperous position than that of low-level office worker. But would still have to be mobile to undergo their trade, therefore may be considered more in line with the tradition description of a working class person than their middle class wage may infer.

Nevertheless, the office is may be considered an information factory, with each figure as much of a cog as the work of an iron mill, or greater industrial complex. Through their white collars are not mucked by the toils of manual labour, but their brows may be just as heavy with the grease of their weary head, their bodies’ muscles barely flex but their mind compensating for their stasis. Much as the hands of the factory worker struggled to keep up with the machines of the industrial revolution, so to must the minds of the office complex drag behind, as the weary knuckles of the drivers of the information machine crack and ache. As the pyramid hierarchy heads atop the shoulders of middle management tower above, far removed from the common worker.

For they do not steer the great automaton they top, but merely propagate a continuous means of self-regulating information production. They must act as catalysts to data digestion rather than the commanders of thought direction. They are piloted externally by market factors and the economic environment in which they inhabit, in which they must constantly expanding in order to survive, cannibalistically consuming the reprocessing more and more non-descript, self perpetuating, self-referential data.

Labour oils the machine, offices dehumanise ethnographic information into digitally digestible forms, to be fed into itself, is used as fuel to expanding simultaneously alongside the institutions of the supposed post-industrial society. Thus, it is Consumption that is produced; manufactured, to be reabsorbed via ubiquitous screens on he desks of aspiration, and the telescreens of ne’er-do-contented.