The affective commons of Coworking

Publication by Julian Waters-Lynch & Cameron Duff , , ,

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Abstract in English:

What kind of common project is Coworking? Coworking was first presented as a novel model for organising autonomous, authentic and creative labour amid a community of workers who share these progressive aspirations. That this promise has not always been realised in practice has provoked a strong sense of ambivalence among many Coworkers. This article offers a critical assessment of this ambivalence, which we approach by way of a novel theoretical category, an affective commons. Such a commons describes the atmospheric product of the immaterial labour of Coworkers, including the ‘commoning’ processes by which the community endorsed in accounts of the appeal of Coworking may manifest. In this respect, ambivalence about Coworking may be regarded as an effect of conflicts that arise in the shared work of commoning, particularly conflict over the capture and commodification of pooled resources, and fair acknowledgement of the contributions labouring bodies make to their circulation and reproduction. We argue that this ambivalence emerges from Coworking arrangements themselves, rather than the broader conditions of precarity that characterise much nonstandard work. We close with a brief discussion of the practical implications of our analysis for ongoing efforts to address this ambivalence and sustain the mutualism of Coworking.

Open Access? No

Journal Human Relations
Publication Year 2019

Publisher Sage Journals

DOI 10.1177/0018726719894633