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Suicide VoicesLabour Trauma in France$
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Sarah Waters

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781789622232

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781789622232.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 02 December 2021

Capitalism, Work and Suicide

Capitalism, Work and Suicide

Chapter:
(p.25) Chapter 1 Capitalism, Work and Suicide
Source:
Suicide Voices
Author(s):

Sarah Waters

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.3828/liverpool/9781789622232.003.0002

Chapter one draws on histories of suicide and historical studies of industrial labour in order to examine whether work suicide constitutes a new phenomenon reflecting the historically specific conditions of neoliberalism. Despite the poor material conditions of labour under industrial capitalism, there are few recorded cases of work-related suicide. In 19th century France, suicide was characterised as a marginal phenomenon that affected the most impoverished social groups: the jobless, the destitute or the infirm. The chapter examines the structural transformations that have precipitated a rise of suicides in the workplace and in particular, the shift to a finance-driven economic order. From a source of productivity and therefore profit under industrial capitalism, labour has become, in the contemporary context, an obstacle to rational and extraneous financial goals that needs to be removed. Suicides are the product of differential neoliberal management regimes. On the one hand, suicides affected workers who were pushed to their very limits by management in a bid to increase their individual productivity, economic worth and therefore maximise profits. On the other, suicides affected workers who were pushed out of the workplace as a form of surplus cost.

Keywords:   Industrial capitalism, Finance capitalism, Neoliberalism, Marx, Engels, Management, Social protest

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