Dr. James Chamberlain, of Mississippi State University’s Department of Political Science and Public Administration, published Undoing Work, Rethinking Community in February 2018. This new work examines the contemporary overvaluation of work, highlighting political rhetoric that puts employment at the centre of society without addressing the socio-economic factors that limit access to employment and a living wage. Its underlying argument mirrors its title, that community must be separated from the idea of paid labour as inequity grows. Chamberlain’s book includes a chapter on basic income (UBI), emphasizing that while UBI is an important part of social restructuring, it must be paired with conscious attention to deconstructing the importance of paid work.

The book was listed as an exciting contribution to the literature on unpaid work and basic income by JoAnne Swanson of The Anticareerist. It has also gathered several reviews. Hull University’s Patrick Reedy comments that “Chamberlain’s book provides a useful resource for questioning our own assumptions regarding the close coupling of work and organization and the centrality of work to our understanding of citizenship and community.”

Blogger and author John Budd comments further on the connections between Undoing Work and UBI, noting that “A popular proposal these days is for a universal basic income, the (simplified) theory being that reducing people’s dependency on work for subsistence will allow them to choose from a broader set of life activities. An interesting contribution of Undoing Work is showing how the thinking that lies behind many of the proposals for universal basic income do not break with traditional views of work and society to the extent needed to really bring about a large-scale change in the centrality of work.”


For more information:

John Budd, “Undoing Work, or Doing it up? How Central Should Work Be to Society?” Whither Work? Blog, June 13th 2018

Patrick Reedy, “Book Review: Undoing Work, Rethinking Community” Organization Studies,, August 6th 2018

“Interview: James Chamberlain on “Undoing Work, Rethinking Community” – Epistemic Unruliness 23”, Always Already Podcast, July 9th 2018 (Podcast)

Kate McFarland, “Interview: UBI and ‘Job Culture’”, Basic Income News, April 30th 2018