ABSTRACT. This paper considers how mainstream economic conceptions of education and employment are losing coherence as technological displacement of labor tracks with global economic stagnation and inequality. The paper engages in what Daniel Bell once referred to as “social forecasting” to suggest that if automation and precaritization of employment continue as some predict, this will likely intensify pressure on educational systems to perform for the economy and thus deepen social conflicts over educational access, knowledge production, class and racial stratification. At the same time, the paper argues that narrow human capital models reduce the capacity of formal education to creatively meet the expansive challenges immanent to a potential post-work landscape by circumscribing the innovative potential of education, knowledge and subjectivity. In conclusion, the article discusses mainstream economic, post-Keynesian, and emergent radical-progressive perspectives on post-work alternatives for education and society. pp. 21–40

Keywords: human capital; education; automation; precarity; credentialism


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