The ideology of entrepreneurship

Image: Joshua


Two and a half centuries later we see the return of the origins of capitalism in labor relations

Capitalism (re)discovered a new way of organizing work without having to be responsible for rights and, on top of that, with an advantage, it transfers the costs of financing basic rights, such as social security, to the workers themselves.

At least two examples highlight this new reality, the first is uberization in which workers carry out their work disconnected from the guarantee of rights; the second is the contract between employer and worker using the individual micro-entrepreneur (MEI) resource. This modality is also known as pejotization. The changes in the regulation of outsourcing, which does not distinguish between means and ends of work activity, and the Labor Reform, caused hiring via MEI to explode. In both forms, capital does not assume the payment of rights.

We now see thousands of workers working without any rights or having to finance their own rights. The question is why workers accept this condition. In addition to the structural problems of the Brazilian labor market characterized by informality in which the lack of alternatives pushes people to accept this situation, there are other reasons that are not always so explicit.

One of them is that these changes are accompanied and supported by the ideology of entrepreneurship, which assumes that a person's success, particularly in working life, depends only on their efforts, their perfomance, your will, your perseverance and your visionary intuitions. Many credit the growth of self-employment to this ideology.

However, anyone who thinks that these workers consider themselves entrepreneurs is mistaken. There is evidence that a significant portion is seduced into labor without rights less because of ideological discourse and more because of the supposed autonomy that the uberization and pejotization modality promises.

Gone are the days when working with a formal contract and an 8-hour day was my dream job. Resistance to Fordist employment is due to the standardized working day in which the worker needs to be in the same place for the same number of hours daily and is often subordinate to an authoritarian boss or supervisor. This type of employment guarantees rights – regular and minimum wage, holidays, holiday pay, 13th salary, social security – but autonomy is restricted.

There is another problem with Fordist standard employment: it pays very little.

Putting everything in the balance, between a job with a formal contract and an Uber-type “job”, many opt for the second alternative. It is not uncommon in conversations with Uberized workers to say that they left their jobs because they now feel more autonomous and earn the same or even more.

Does the adherence of thousands to the uberization and pejotization of work fit solely based on the explanations above? Obviously not. It is evident – ​​research reveals – that Uberized workers want rights, however, preserving their autonomy. Hence the resistance to “celetization” – CLT contract – of labor regulation. The number of workers who do not accept and no longer want to work in a subordinate manner is growing.

This is a significant change in the world of work because this time the discourse of capitalism, that you can make money by organizing your own life, finds strong support among workers.

The class struggle remains, but it has become more complex.

*Cesar Sanson Professor of sociology of work at the Department of Social Sciences at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN), author of Work in the Classics of Sociology, the – Marx, Durkheim and Weber (Expression Popular, 2021). []

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