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Wages for pain: On work, damage and drudgery under capitalism.


We're often taught to understand that capitalist is an inherently efficient system, and if something is inefficient - say a worker with a sore back who can't work as hard, that they will be replaced by something more efficient - a machine. And it's becoming very clear that maybe just as, if not more important to capitalism than efficiency is inefficiency, and waste, and pointless work, and drudgery.

Anthropologist Aaron Neiman connects worker pain to the pre-existing conditions of labor under capitalism - as work vanishes under the looming spectre of mass automation, work-induced injury remains an individualized, moralized phenomenon not adjacent to the demands of capital, but at its very center.

Aaron wrote the essay A Pain in the Back for The New Inquiry.

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Aaron Neiman

Aaron Neiman is a PhD student at Stanford University studying medical anthropology.


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