The Time of Work and the Time of Leisure: Alienation in the Era of Digitalization

  • Ivan Mikirtumov
Keywords: Alienation, labor, leisure, digitalization, freedom, necessity, commodification


The article attempts to answer the question of the impact of digitalization upon alienation and the differentiation between work and leisure. It contextualizes the concept of alienation from Marx’s economic and philosophical manuscripts, drawing a distinction between the time of work as alienated existence, or necessity, and personal time, as leisure and freedom. Alienation is grasped both as concept and as affect (with preference accorded to the latter). Digitalization, in its turn, is understood as a phenomenon that influences labor similarly to other technological developments, albeit with its own specificities. Labor is not only becoming more complex but also more individualized — both itself and its product becoming ever more unique. Touching upon the ideas of Marx, Stirner, Arendt, and Virno, as well as Boltanski, Chiapello, and Esquerre’s observations on the creative and the unique in relation to alienation, we can draw the following conclusion: alienation in labor under conditions of digitalization diminishes and even disappears, being replaced by the affect of аgon. The specificity of this kind of labor is that its products are those of commodified freedom, that is, they are intended for consumption in the sphere of freedom — during one’s personal, or “own,” time. The commodification of leisure introduces a particular kind of alienation — unlike labor, freedom is not alienated from its other but from itself. Naked necessity becomes an alienating force, freedom collapses and one’s manner of living becomes meaningless. The distinction between work and leisure thus does not disappear but acquires a new basis.

Author Biography

Ivan Mikirtumov

Doctor of Philosophy, Associate Professor
Faculty of Liberal Arts and Sciences,
Saint Petersburg State University; Universitetskaya Embankment 7–9,
Saint Petersburg, Russia


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How to Cite
Mikirtumov, I. (2022). The Time of Work and the Time of Leisure: Alienation in the Era of Digitalization. Stasis, 13(1), 38-76. Retrieved from