Distribution Automatique

Saturday, October 25

"The operational models of popular culture
cannot be confined to the past, the countryside
or primitive peoples. They exist in the heart of
the strongholds of the contemporary
economy. Take, for example, whatin France
is called *la perruque*,
"the wig." *La perruque*is the worker's own
work disguised as work for his employer. It differs
from pilfering in that nothing of material value is stolen.
It differsfrom absenteeism in that the worker is
officially on the job. *La perruque* may be
as simple as matter as a secretary's writing a love
letter on "company time" or
as complex as a cabinetmaker's
"borrowing" a lathe to make a piece
of furniture to make a piece
of furniture for his living room.
Under different names in
different countries this
phenomenon is becoming more
and more general, even if managers
penalize it or "turn a blind eye" on it in
order not to know about it. Accused
of stealing orturning material
to his own endsand using the machines for his
own profit, the worker who
indulges in *la perruque* actually
diverts time (not goods, since he uses only scraps)
from the factory
for work that is free, creative and precisely not
directed toward profit. In the very place
where the machine he must serve reigns supreme,
he cunningly takes pleasure in finding a way to
create gratuitous products
whose sole purpose is tosignify his own
capabilities through hishis solidarity with other
workers or his family through *spending*
his time in this way.
With the complicity of other workers
(who thus defeat the competition the factory
tries to instill among them), he succeeds in
"putting one over" on the established order
on its home ground. Far from being a regression
toward a mode of production organized around artisans
or individuals, *la perruque* reintroduces "popular"
techniques of other times and other places
into the industrial space(this is, the Present order)."

From *The Practice of Everyday Life"
Michel De Certeau
U Cal press