Introduction
Design, activism and precarity
in Precarious objects
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This chapter starts with the story of San Precario, patron saint of precarious workers, a design intervention that mobilised counter-precarity activism in 2004. Here, San Precario introduces the theme of the book: design activism in the context of precarity in Italy. While other anti-precarity activists adapted modes of protests already part of labour movements’ contentious repertoire, such as strikes, pickets, rallies and marches, San Precario as a campaigning artefact and redirective practice brought into play designerly elements, recoding the public discourse. The introduction lays out the reasons for a book on activism and design and presents current debates on cultural and design activism. It also lays out debates on precarity as a concept and contextualises it in contemporary Italian history. The Introduction defines precarity as a type of governmentality that impacts on all aspects of life; that (in addition to labour) regulates the production circulation of a wide range of material and immaterial effects; and that functions as a defuturing force that invests social and material life. Finally, the outline describes the three microhistories that constitute the book’s cases.

Precarious objects

Activism and design in Italy

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