Skip to main content

Democratize Work

The Case for Reorganizing the Economy

Translated by Miranda Richmond Mouillot
An urgent and deeply resonant case for the power of workplace democracy to restore balance between economy and society.

What happens to a society—and a planet—when capitalism outgrows democracy? The tensions between democracy and capitalism are longstanding, and they have been laid bare by the social effects of COVID-19. The narrative of “essential workers” has provided thin cover for the fact that society’s lowest paid and least empowered continue to work risky jobs that keep our capitalism humming. Democracy has been subjugated by the demands of capitalism. For many, work has become unfair. 

In Democratize Work, essays from a dozen social scientists—all women—articulate the perils and frustrations of our collective moment, while also framing the current crisis as an opportunity for renewal and transformation. Amid mounting inequalities tied to race, gender, and class—and with huge implications for the ecological fate of the planet—the authors detail how adjustments in how we organize work can lead to sweeping reconciliation. By treating workers as citizens, treating work as something other than an asset, and treating the planet as something to be cared for, a better way is attainable. Building on cross-disciplinary research, Democratize Work is both a rallying cry and an architecture for a sustainable economy that fits the democratic project of our societies.

Contributors include Alyssa Battistoni (Barnard College of Columbia University), Adelle Blackett (McGill University), Julia Cagé (Sciences Po), Neera Chandhoke (University of Delhi), Lisa Herzog (University of Groningen), Imge Kaya Sabanci (IE Business School), Sara Lafuente (European Trade Union Institute), Hélène Landemore (Yale University), Flávia Máximo (Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto, Brazil), and Pavlina R. Tcherneva (Levy Economics Institute of Bard College).


"Ferreras, Battilana, and Méda explore the potential for democratizing firms, decommodifying work, and decarbonizing the environment, explaining how these levers of positive social change are interrelated and how they can be implemented."

Journal of Economic Literature

"A cornerstone for building a fairer and more inclusive society. A must-read."

Thomas Piketty, author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century

"Exciting yet viable—the framework to mobilize for change and an essential handbook for everyone hoping for a better future."

Jayati Ghosh, University of Massachussetts Amherst

"This brilliant book makes the most compelling, comprehensive, and accessible case yet for democratizing work. It shows how we all have a stake in empowering workers at work--not only for the sake of workers, but for democracy at large, and a more sustainable planet."

Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan

"This book powerfully makes the case that democracy cannot be limited to political institutions but also belongs in the workplace. As technology and a global pandemic are radically remaking our relations at work, this book offers desperately needed guidance for achieving a more just and inclusive economic system. Imaginative, empirically informed, and motivated by a profound humanity, this is a normative social science at its best."

Debra Satz, Stanford University

Table of Contents

Introduction: For a Fairer, More Democratic, Greener Society
  Julie Battilana
Manifesto: Work. Democratize. Decommodify. Decarbonize.
From the Politically Impossible to the Politically Inevitable: Taking Action
  Isabelle Ferreras
Democratize Firms . . . Why, and How?
  Hélène Landemore
Equal Dignity for All Citizens Means Equal Voice at Work: The Importance of Epistemic Justice
  Lisa Herzog
Democratizing Work to Reverse Increasing Inequalities
  Imge Kaya-Sabanci
Work in Dignity
  Adelle Blackett
Dual Majorities for Firm Governments
  Sara Lafuente
Rescuing Journalism by Decommodifying the Media
  Julia Cagé
Decommodifying Work: The Power of a Job Guarantee
  Pavlina R. Tcherneva
All Workers Produce Value
  Neera Chandhoke
The Subaltern Worker-Body Speaks; Will the Privileged Listen?
  Flávia Máximo
Sustaining Life on This Planet
  Alyssa Battistoni
Working Against an End: Shifting Gears for a New Beginning
  Dominique Méda
About the Authors

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press