Katrina Forrester

Katrina Forrester teaches political theory at Harvard.

On the Disassembly Line: Dirty Work

Katrina Forrester, 7 July 2022

Many jobs​ involve work we would prefer not to think about. When you recycle your rubbish, you know that someone somewhere will have to sort through it. When you eat meat, you know that someone did the killing. We overlook much of the work done to meet our needs, even when it’s closer to home: cleaning the streets, unblocking the sewers, digging graves. Someone always has to do the dirty work. The internet was supposed to be different. The new technologies central to contemporary capitalism offer the possibility of improving our working lives, even if they do so partly by eliminating our jobs. But badly paid and repetitive work has not diminished, it has proliferated. Machine learning, it transpires, depends on humans doing boring and unpleasant things – above all, cleaning and annotating data. 

What counts as work? Gig Economics

Katrina Forrester, 5 December 2019

Employmentcontracts are by their nature asymmetrical. Although in principle contracts are made between two free and equal parties, when an employee signs one they enter into an unequal relationship. Work can be a source of identity, a prerequisite for social inclusion, and a marker of status and independence; historically, the employment contract has been contrasted with slavery, bondage...

‘What’s​ on your mind?’ Each day, the 968 million people who log in to Facebook are asked to share their thoughts with its giant data bank. A dropdown menu of smilies invites you to update ‘how you’re feeling’. ‘Excited’ is the first option, ‘happy’ is the second. If they don’t fit, you can scroll down and pick from 120 other...

Blame it on the management: Working Girls

Katrina Forrester, 3 July 2014

You're at work. You’re good at your job and work long hours – your boss has little to complain about. You get on with your colleagues and have them over for dinner now and again, but your boss doesn’t like you seeing them outside work. He doesn’t like that you’re a member of a union either, and that you’ve told your colleagues about it. He starts harassing you. It begins with a sexually inappropriate comment here and there, and comments about your weight. It turns out he’s pressuring some of your colleagues to have sex with him.

Shag another: In Bed with the Police

Katrina Forrester, 7 November 2013

The Grosvenor Square demonstration against the Vietnam War in March 1968 caught the Metropolitan Police by surprise. After a rally in Trafalgar Square and a march to the US Embassy, the protest turned into a street battle; stones, smoke bombs and firecrackers were thrown, and mounted police charged the crowd. More than two hundred protesters were arrested. In the months that followed, alarm seemed to grip the police, who felt they were on the back foot. Special Branch began sending weekly reports to the Home Office predicting what protesters would do next.

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