The Future of Work in a Post-Liberal Era

From Core Labour Standards to Freedom from Work

Can we continue to consume, produce and grow to provide enough work? So far, socialist and capitalist strategies have looked at providing enough work, targeting full employment under the right to work. Is this strategy sustainable in the global economy? This research discusses current shortcomings of existing labour strategies in the global economy and designs an alternative one consisting in expanding ‘freedom from work’. It looks at how to reduce the need to work out of economic necessity and how labour rights should be designed to contribute to this goal.

In this regard, it outlines traditional attempts to reduce the working week and to introduce a basic income and discusses whether they are feasible in the global economy. It shows that in order to expand freedom from work in a global economy, it is necessary to think beyond productivity and redistributive mechanisms and rethink the meaning and usefulness of ‘productive labour’. Ultimately, the goal of this research project is to design a new economic model, called human economy, based on the idea that most people on the planet must work to have certain capabilities and choices. If these capabilities were created more efficiently, most people on the planet would therefore need to work less to achieve them. In short, this framework rethinks the value of work and, consequently, the need to work for economic reasons.

01.12.2018 – 20.11.2022

Nicolas Bueno, assistant professor, UniDistance Suisse

Swiss National Science Foundation, Ambizione

Main institution
Zurich University, Kompetenzzentrum Menschenrechte Universität Zürich



  • Bueno Nicolas, Freedom ‘at’, ‘through‘ and ‘from’ Work : Rethinking Labour Rights, 160 (2) International Labour Review (2021) 311-329. DOI:  
  • Bueno Nicolas, Liberté au travail, par le travail et face au travail: comment repenser les droits du travail, 160 (2) Revue internationale du Travail (2021) 339-360. DOI :   
  • Bueno Nicolas, Libertad en el trabajo, a través del trabajo y frente al trabajo. Un replanteamiento de los derechos laborales 140(2) Revista internacional del trabajo (2021) 335-355. DOI  
  • Bueno Nicolas, From Productive Work to Capability-Enhancing Work: Implications for Labour Law and Policy, Journal of Human Development and Capabilities (2021). DOI:
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