Experimenting with wellbeing: basic income, immaterial labour and changing forms of productivity

Stream: Basic income, policy experiments and the competition state
Date: Monday, 9 September 2019
Time: 1.30 pm – 3.10 pm


This paper is concerned with basic income (BI) and especially with recent basic income experiment in Finland. This experiment gleaned praise from progressives around the world, not least because of its apparent break from the conditionalities and sanctions of workfarism. We stress, however, that it is critical to understand the Finnish BI experiment as part of a broad and ongoing programme of government-led reform in Finland. This programme contains a range of strategies that are aimed at a restructuring of the labour supply. We show how the BI experiment should be understood in such terms, specifically, as a behavioural intervention designed to enhance the wellbeing of unemployed populations at a time when wellbeing is emerging as a productive, value producing capacity. We suggest therefore that BI must be understood as a policy intervention that forms part of a broader strategy of the restructuring of labour supply in the context of the emergence of new notions of productivity.


Lisa Adkins (Presenter), University of Sydney
Lisa Adkins is Professor of Sociology and Head of the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney. She is also an Academy of Finland Distinguished Professor (2015-19). Her contributions to the discipline of sociology are in the areas of economic sociology, social theory and feminist theory. Recent publications include The Time of Money (2018), The Post-Fordist Sexual Contract: Working and Living in Contingency (with Maryanne Dever, 2016) and Measure and Value (with Celia Lury, 2012). She is joint Editor-in-Chief of Australian Feminist Studies (Routledge/Taylor & Francis).

Hanna Ylöstalo (Presenter), University of Helsinki
Hanna Ylöstalo is a Core Fellow at the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies at the Univer- sity of Helsinki, Finland. Her research project, titled Missing ‘Plan F’ – A battle between knowledge, economy and equality in the changing welfare state (2017–2020) is concerned with the changing conditions of gender equality policy in Finland. Her research interests include neoliberalization of the Nordic welfare state, gendered economy-society relations as well as work and organizations. She has published her work in a range of journals including Critical Sociology; International Fem- inist Journal of Politics and Gender, Work and Organization.