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The cloud factory: Making things and making a living with desktop 3D printing

Journal article
Authors Johan Söderberg
Published in Culture and Organization
Volume 25
Issue 1
Pages 65-81
ISSN 1475-9551
Publication year 2019
Published at Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science
Pages 65-81
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1080/14759551.2016.12...
Keywords social factory, 3D printing, makers, free labour, putting-out systems, sharing economy, labor process theory, informational capitalism, organization, work, internet, technology, critique, identity, industry, regimes, Business & Economics
Subject categories Philosophy, Ethics and Religion

Abstract

This paper presents a case study of an open-source 3D printer called 'Rep-rap'. 3D printing derives from computer numerical control machinery, a technology first introduced against a background of industrial conflict. This historical fact reactualises labour process theory as a theoretical resource. However, the hobbyists in the Rep-rap project are located 'outside' the typical setting studied in labour process theory, that is, the workplace. The case study is, therefore, suitable for examining the limits of labour process theory. Its key tenet regarding structured antagonism between labour and capital is put to the test when the 'point of production' is located in a community and 'labour' consists in non-remunerated contributions by hobbyists (i.e. non-employees). Drawing on theories of the social factory and free labour in the cultural sector, the article argues that this is changing as hobbyists, fans, makers, etc., are put to work by start-up firms and venture capital in the so-called "sharing economy."

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