Activating Home and Work

Through practices of institutional and self-critique, this essay inter-relates ‘home’ and ‘work’ as sites of research production considered in terms of the distinction Hannah Arendt draws between labour, work and action in The Human Condition (1958). According to Arendt, labour corresponds to the biological life of humans and animals and work to the artificial processes of artefact fabrication; and where action – and its connection to speech – is for Arendt the central political activity. Actions of ‘speaking out’ taken at home and work in various institutional settings, from management meetings at work to residents’ association meetings at home, in response to the specific cultural and political conditions at play in both, are understood to be forms of ‘critical spatial practice’ (Rendell, 2006), which seek to intervene into these sites in order to critique them, but also, with others, to activate them politically. These modes of action are understood in terms of Michel Foucault’s writings on parrhesia (1983) defined as a practice, which involves care for the other and for the self, and configured as a ‘site-writing’ (Rendell, 2011) composed of two sets of actions: Making Home Work and Taking Work Home.

Jane Rendell, ‘Activating Home and Work’, Sandra Loschke (ed.), NON-STANDARD ARCHITECTURAL PRODUCTIONS: Between Aesthetic Experience and Social Action, (London: Routledge, 2019).

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