Jean Monnet, Erasmus + Projects. I work, therefore I am (European)


Jean Monnet, Erasmus + Projects. I work, therefore I am (European)


Duration: September 2016 – March 2018

Direction: Maurizio Ferraris

Conception & Coordination: Angela Condello, Tiziano Toracca

Partners & consultants: Piervirgilio Dastoli (Movimento Europeo), Luigi Moccia (University of Roma Tre), Filip Dorsemmont (UC Louvain), Monica Jansen (Utrecht University), Massimiliano Tortora (University of Torino)


Short description:

I work, therefore I am (European) (IWIAME) is an international Jean Monnet Project funded by the EACEA (EU Commission) in the frame of the Erasmus+ Programmes.

With the present project we aim at organizing an international conference – “I work, therefore I am (European) ” – by bringing together academics, stakeholders, politicians and intellectuals from different European countries around the topic of labour considered from both a juridical-political and a humanistic perspective.


Research Key points


In contemporary Europe, labour occupies a central position in human existence: it is the principal criterion of reciprocal recognition and of universal mobilization. In a multi-level governance system like the EU, through their profession people feel recognized by the others: they are. Labour is more than a mere economic relationship: it is an identitarian process. How does social identity interact with European identity?


Labour is an apparatus for the governance of a collectivity that creates a plurality of relational dimensions (capabilities, status, social patterns) through which the fulfillment of the individual takes shape: once an individual is excluded by the professional world, his integration in the community he belongs to becomes weak if not impossible. Citizenship and political belonging are thus only partial aspects of European governamentality. Labour policies are central in the constitution of the European subject through common economic values.


Europe has faced traumatic changes in the working conditions of individuals: we refer to phenomena like the deindustrialization, the enlargement and extension of markets, the increasing number of exchanges on the web (and in virtual realities) and the acceleration of the cyclical crises of capitalism . Migratory fluxes, ethnic diversity and marriage patterns are altering the stratification of professional life. The result is a polarization of work throughout the European Union: a sticky floor of precarious work, a hollowed out middle, and an increasingly polarized top, a form of total mobilization.

The advent of service economy and the competitive forces of globalization have blurred the distinctions between working time and free time, with increased labour demanded by market forces and household needs. The changes in the economic equilibrium has translated into recurring themes in the public discourse: flexibility, precariousness, and work-life balance.

Labour rights and labour policies in the frame of the European Union legitimize the penetration of the world by neoliberal capitalism. Recently there has been a socio-identitarian turn in European narratives towards the use of testimony, documents, reportage, blogs on human identity and its precariousness and mobilization.

The methodological perspective is interdisciplinary. Through it we aim at bridging together political action and academic research by building connections between political institutions, stakeholders, NGOs, unions, universities and private foundations as well as think thanks.

Labour is, first of all, an anthropological phenomenon influencing human daily life everywhere and everytime. It is not just an economic exchange, but it also involves a number of relations and it shapes individual life radically.

For these reasons, we have decided to discuss the topic of labour and human existence in the European frame also through humanistic production and discourse: through them, the link between labour and human existence emerges more clearly.

The originality of the scientific methodology consists of the interconnection between the political agenda and the historical, philosophical and humanistic reflections on labour.

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