The realm of work has been at the centre of neoliberal transformation of societies. Turning labour into human capital gave rise to imprinting - exploitation beyond the wage-form or beyond what Marx called the subsumption of labour under capital. Employability is key to this phenomenon. While it does not guarantee employment, life itself becomes a promise of employability. This promise perpetuates even without being actualised. This is achieved via ‘transferrable skills’, which serve as an ‘instrumentation’ of employability. Framing subjectivities within and beyond work, these skills provide a mechanism for both governing people and justifying exploitation. The empirical material of this paper analyses EXPO 2015 in Milan, a context where unpaid work as an exploitative practice beyond the wage-form was particularly evident.
Keywords: Imprinting, employability, promise, unpaid voluntary work, EXPO