10th Anniversary Wheelwright Lecture: Manufacturing the Future: Cultures of Production for the Anthropocene    

10th Anniversary Wheelwright Lecture: Manufacturing the Future: Cultures of Production for the Anthropocene    

Events, Katherine Gibson

Invitation       

About the lecture

Debates about the future of manufacturing in Australia return to prominence every few years, prompted by the latest downturn in employment or closure of a plant. The overarching narrative of change is one of decline. Since the heyday of protectionism when 30% of the workforce was employed in manufacturing, today only 8% are employed in the sector and union membership has sunk to an all-time low of just over 12%.

The prognosis of decline has intensified with recent plant closures in the foreign owned automotive industry and the shedding of 20 per cent of the manufacturing workforce between 2008 and 2015. Yet, there is strong popular support for maintaining and strengthening a manufacturing base in this country and, according to the promos for the 2017 National Manufacturing Summit, there are signs that manufacturing  industry in Australia may be ‘turning a corner’.

Clearly manufacturing is far from dead, but the apparent invisibility of a buoyant manufacturing culture is worrisome. In this lecture Professor Katherine Gibson will approach the issue of a manufacturing future for Australia by asking: what kinds of manufacturing cultures might be up to the challenges of the Anthropocene? Professor Gibson will present initial findings from qualitative research she is conducting with colleagues at Western Sydney University and the University of Newcastle, on a range of innovative manufacturing enterprises, and whether there are businesses in Australia that genuinely sustain equitable communities and healthy ecologies while remaining financially viable. The research is framed by the diverse economies research agenda which opens analysis to the diversity of ways of producing and distributing new wealth and seeks to displace the primacy of an abstracted and capitalocentric model of enterprise behavior.

About the speaker

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Pursuing happiness: it’s mostly a matter of surviving well together

Pursuing happiness: it’s mostly a matter of surviving well together

Analyses, Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson, Stephen Healy

Katherine Gibson, Western Sydney University; Jenny Cameron, University of Newcastle, and Stephen Healy, Western Sydney University

This article is part of a series, On Happiness, examining what it means and how it might be achieved in the 21st century.


Understandings of happiness are shifting. More and more research is finding that we cannot spend our way to happiness. Increasing incomes do not necessarily lead to increasing happiness. Even in a country such as China, average incomes have increased fourfold since the 1990s while life satisfaction has decreased over the same period.

Research is also finding that happiness is less an individual matter and more a collective endeavour. The quality of our relationships with others is pivotal. These others include those closest to us (our immediate family and friends) as well as those unknown to us but with whom we comprise a society.

In a climate-changing world, this relational understanding of happiness also has to extend to our relationship with the planet on which our survival depends.

The shift in understanding happiness could not be better summed up than in the words of the first elected prime minister of Bhutan in 2008:

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Take Back the Economy An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities

Take Back the Economy An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities

Books, Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson

J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron, and Stephen Healy

Take Back the Economy dismantles the idea that the economy is separate from us and best comprehended by experts, demonstrating that the economy is the outcome of the decisions and efforts we make every day. Full of exercises and inspiring examples from around the world, it shows how people can implement small-scale changes in their own lives to create ethical economies.

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Commoning as a Post-capitalist Politics

Commoning as a Post-capitalist Politics

Jenny Cameron, Journal Articles, Katherine Gibson

J.K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy, 2016. “Commoning as a postcapitalist politics.” In Releasing the Commons: Rethinking the Futures of the Commons, edited by Ash Amin and Philip Howell, Chapter 12, Routledge.

In this chapter we explore how the process of commoning offers a politics for the Anthropocene. To reveal the political potential of commoning, however, we need to step outside of the ways that the commons have generally been understood. We argue that commons can be conceived of as a process—commoning—that is applicable to any form of property, whether private, or state-owned, or open access.

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After capitalism, what comes next? For a start, ethics

After capitalism, what comes next? For a start, ethics

Analyses, Capital, Jenny Cameron, Katherine Gibson, Stephen Healy

Jenny Cameron, University of Newcastle; Katherine Gibson, Western Sydney University, and Stephen Healy, Western Sydney University

If the comments generated by the recent publication of excerpts from Paul Mason’s forthcoming book, Postcapitalism: A Guide to Our Future, are anything to go by, its release at the end of the month should kick up a storm.

Mason’s book is about a seismic economic shift already underway, one that is as profound as the transformation from feudalism to capitalism. In the excerpts, Mason observes that:

… whole swaths of economic life are beginning to move to a different rhythm.

The shift is evidenced by developments such as collaborative production and the sharing economy. Mason attributes this economic transformation to advances in information technology, particularly the global networks of people and ideas that are now possible.

Such large-scale pronouncements inevitably generate an equally strong pushback, albeit in very different ways. For example, some comments on the published excerpts align with Fredric Jameson’s observation that sometimes for the Left:

… it is easier to imagine the end of the world than to imagine the end of capitalism.

Other comments are more aligned with climate-change denialism and the sentiment that “it is easier to desire the end of the world than to desire the end of capitalism”.

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