Projects and Events


Wednesday 24 September, 6-8pm
Birkbeck University: Cinema and Room G10, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD

Join us for the launch of our second publication from the Manual Labours research project: Manual Labours Manual #2. The evening begins with a screening of Marianne Flotron’s ‘Work’ 2012 followed by a performance by Hamish MacPherson and drinks.

Manual Labours Manual #2 builds on research developed through a series of workshops with a complaints team in a London Borough Council and cultural workers in Melbourne, Helsinki and Stockholm throughout 2014.  This second issue explores the overlaps between the fields of complaining and criticality in order to explore affinities between these different work forces and find out where and how the body is put to work in these two seemingly unconnected contexts.

The emotion work of enhancing the status and wellbeing of others is a form of what Ivan Illich has called ‘shadow labour’ an unseen effort which like housework does not quite count as labour but is nevertheless crucial to getting other things done.  As with housework well, the trick is to erase any evidence of effort, to offer only the clean house and the welcoming smile. Arlie Hochschild The Managed Heart (1979) p.167

A service with a smile often hides other, perhaps not so positive emotions. The friendly smile has become the required uniform of workers in coffee shops, classrooms, care homes and call centres. Manual Labours Manual #2 questions the possibility that the labour of giving, receiving, processing and analysing complaints is not so dissimilar to that of the cultural worker.  Within this issue you can browse our findings through a fictional encounter between two characters exchanging their experiences of cultural work and complaint-managing; an exchange of love letters between a body and a computer; yoga-work positions to enact at your desk and a to do list of secret subversions to enact during unproductive work time.

More Manual Labour news:

****Friday 26 September, 11am-1pm : The London Art Book Fair****
Whitechapel Gallery, 77-82 Whitechapel High Street, London.
Manual Labours will be showcasing our new publication Manual Labours Manual #2 at the London Art Book Fair atAND‘s stall, come visit us!
****Friday 26 September, 6pm : Scaffold see Scaffold, The Showroom, London****
The Showroom Gallery, 63 Penfold Street, London.
Manual Labours are contributing to a panel discussion organised by Patrick Staff as part of his project Scaffold see Scaffold commissioned through Communal Knowledge at the Showroom, London.

Manual Labours is a long term research project exploring people’s physical relationships to work, initiated by Jenny Richards and Sophie Hope. The project reconsiders current time-based structures of work (when does work start and end?) and reasserts the significance of the physical (manual) aspect of immaterial, affective and emotional labour. To download our first Manual Labours Manual #1 click here.

Manual Labours Manual #2 is published by Cultural Democracy Editions and printed and distributed by AND Public. We would like to thank all the contributors to the research, the Widening Access Team at Birkbeck for their support of Manual Labours and HEFCE’s Higher Education Innovation Funding.

To follow our activity please visit our website
Or contact us by email

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  • Manual Labours Manual

    Check out the first Issue of Manual Labours Manual
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