Article

Platform-Capital’s ‘App-etite’ for Control: A Labour Process Analysis of Food-Delivery Work in Australia

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Abstract

This qualitative case study adopts a labour process analysis to unpack the distinctive features of capital’s control regimes in the food-delivery segment of the Australian platform-economy and assess labour agency in response to these. Drawing upon worker experiences with the Deliveroo and UberEATS platforms, it is shown how the labour process controls are multi-facetted and more than algorithmic management, with three distinct features standing out: the panoptic disposition of the technological infrastructure, the use of information asymmetries to constrain worker choice and the obfuscated nature of their performance management systems. Combined with the workers’ precarious labour market positions and the Australian political-economic context, only limited, mainly individual, expressions of agency were found.

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... The main features of this control mode centered on "algorithms" can be summarized as follows. First, the platform app becomes the center of the labor organization for both the platform workers and the platform enterprise (Gandini 2019;Veen et al. 2020). Through the users' clickwrap agreement, users' page, the guidance of users' labor process, and evaluation of users' performance, the platform has absolute authority and becomes a nonnegotiable 'employer' (Moore et al. 2017;Srnicek 2017:47). ...
... Furthermore, the platform constantly and efficiently collects and records workers' activity data during the labor process, which benefits the platform optimization of their algorithms, eventually contributing to the platform's stringent control and precise projection of platform workers' activities (Chen 2020). Finally, customers are introduced by the platform into the workers' management and control process via the algorithmic evaluation system (Veen et al. 2020). Customers are given the power to evaluate workers' performance with the rating mechanism, which accelerates the interaction and conflict between platform workers and customers, leaving the platform more as a moderator between them (Rosenblat and Stark 2016;Kirven 2018). ...
... Labor process analysis has extensively been utilized to understand the dynamics of control and resistance among platform workers (Gandini 2019;Veen et al. 2020;Tassinari and Maccarrone 2020). Unfortunately, the concept of the labor regime that links state politics to labor politics is largely missing in the study of platform workers. ...
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This article brings the often-overlooked concept of the labor regime back to the study of China’s food-delivery platform workers. Two tales of platform regimes emerge: individualized platform despotism and bureaucratized platform despotism, which apply to crowdsourcing couriers and dedicated delivery couriers, respectively. This study compares these two types of platform regimes in terms of their institutional foundation and labor organization. Despite different institutional arrangements and labor organization, both types of food-delivery couriers belong to a despotic platform regime revealing workers’ subordination to the platform. In conclusion, it discusses the implications and limitations of this study.
... Platforms, seen as permissive potentates, rely on technological infrastructure, information asymmetries and flexible employment to concede some control, but retain most power over the labour process (Gandini, 2019;Vallas & Schor, 2020). Notably, studies have explored the use of algorithmic management to examine its impact on reducing indeterminacy of work (Cant, 2019), workers' experiences (Griesbach et al., 2019), autonomy (Shapiro, 2018(Shapiro, , 2020 and collective and individual agency (Kougiannou & Mendonça, 2021;Tassinari & Maccarrone, 2020;Veen et al., 2020;Wood et al., 2018). Studies have also examined how the compounded effect between technological control and flexible forms of employment impact workers' experiences and working conditions (Gregory, 2020;Ivanova et al., 2018). ...
... Studies have also examined how the compounded effect between technological control and flexible forms of employment impact workers' experiences and working conditions (Gregory, 2020;Ivanova et al., 2018). Finally, some authors explored these dynamics across different gig economy platform companies and their different impacts on working conditions and workers' capacity to collectively organise (Griesbach et al., 2019;Ivanova et al., 2018;Tassinari & Maccarrone, 2020;Veen et al., 2020). ...
... To address these questions, this study investigates two processes through which the gig economy structures capital-labour relations. First, it intersects labour process theory (LPT) with the conceptualisation of platforms as permissive potentates to explore the interplay between algorithmic management strategies, labour process control and its impacts on working conditions and workers' experiences (Gandini, 2019;Vallas & Schor, 2020;Veen et al., 2020). ...
Article
This article examines how gig economy platform companies, via algorithmic management, shape working conditions and collective organisation of food delivery couriers. Using qualitative data from one case study operating in a city in the United Kingdom, the study captures real‐time intraplatform unilateral changes in algorithmic management to provide increased flexibility for couriers. Findings show algorithmic changes generating a reconfigured, fragmented and compliant workforce. As a result, couriers demonstrate different interests and motivations to work for the company, where disparities in the demands for improved working conditions hindered efforts for collective organising. This article argues that intraplatform algorithmic changes create affordances that companies can exploit to concentrate power over labour even when conceding some control over the labour process.
... Many studies show the influence of AM's transparency of processes as a positive moderator (Al-Hitmi & Sherif, 2018;Basukie et al., 2020;Chan, 2019;Gregory, 2021;Griesbach et al., 2019;Lee et al., 2015Lee et al., , 2019Pfeiffer & Kawalec, 2020;Rahman, 2021;Rani & Furrer, 2020;Roshdy & Erhua, 2020;Scheiber, 2017;Veen et al., 2019;. A system's ability to provide explanations and details about the tasks, helping workers make sense of these decisions, has a positive influence on workers' cooperation and allows them to develop strategies to perform their work more productively (Lee et al., 2015). ...
... Organizations that deliberately do not share workers information with workers about AM processes can create information asymmetry and, consequently, power asymmetry Shapiro, 2018;Tassinari & Maccarrone, 2020;Veen et al., 2019;Woodcock, 2020). By not sharing information generated by technology with workers, gig economy platforms create the illusion of control (e.g., that workers will have autonomy over their schedules and task assignment) in workers and influence their financial insecurity as well as their job insecurity Woodcock, 2020). ...
... By not sharing information generated by technology with workers, gig economy platforms create the illusion of control (e.g., that workers will have autonomy over their schedules and task assignment) in workers and influence their financial insecurity as well as their job insecurity Woodcock, 2020). A study by Veen et al. (2019) demonstrates that, to blur workers' understanding of task assignment rules and maintain a power asymmetry, some gig work platforms perpetuate the idea that performance management is automatized and executed by machine-led algorithms, playing down the actual role of management in calibrating the algorithms. ...
Article
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Algorithmic management (AM) is rapidly spreading across industries and significantly changing the nature of work, thanks to advances in artificial intelligence. Since 2015, the advent of the first publications on this topic, AM has captured and sustained the focus of researchers in the social sciences. This enthusiasm can be explained not only by the rapid expansion of the phenomenon but also by the important issues it raises regarding the influence of management on worker motivation, performance, and well-being. We review the existing literature to identify the known effects of the use of AM on worker motivation, using the lens of self-determination theory (SDT). We uncovered mostly negative effects of AM on worker need satisfaction and motivation; however, features of algorithmic management systems and management utilization practices have moderating effects on the impact of AM on work motivation. Future research should leverage motivational knowledge derived from self-determination theory to inform the design of algorithmic management and how organizations use it.
... Labour Process Theory is an analytical tool that examines the tensions experienced in work in capitalist societies. However, within the sociology of work debates, LPT has rarely been used to directly address issues related to digital work [2,5], let alone working from home. The labour process approach takes into account workplace tensions, such as social conflicts of autonomy/agency and control/resistance, that exist in paid labour, between employers and workers. ...
... The tensions created by management control and worker autonomy are primarily derived from use values, and the imperatives of capital accumulation impel employers to consistently revolutionize their labour process to extract productive use values from their workers [7]-more so in the face of a crisis such as a global pandemic. Although a classic of its time, scholars have drawn on LPT to analyse freelance work in the gig economy, such as food delivery services mediated through online apps [5], and emotional labour and control in examining the role of digital platforms in employer-worker relations [2]. LPT is underutilized in the work-from-home literature and provides a novel approach to expand our understanding of the current enforced work-from-home phenomenon, which is made possible through digitization of knowledge work. ...
... This identity-shift process is produced through the digitization of the sociology of production, wherein workers construct ideal ways of behaving and positioning themselves as a "hard worker". It also represents a normative form of control deployed through digital technology to transform workers' attitudes, behaviours, and identities to eliminate resistance and enhance worker cooperation and self-enterprise, which privilege managerial-capitalist prerogatives [5] of performance above human wellbeing. ...
Article
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This article offers a theorization based on selected literature focused on problematizing the work-from-home phenomenon. It incorporates labour process theory and the work-from-home literature to dissect the impact of enforced working from home procedures during COVID-19. The article presents the advantages to working from home from the existing work-from-home literature and draws on labour process theory to challenge these advantages. The disadvantages discussed in this article include constant availability, enhanced productivity with unpaid labour, loss of worker subjectivity, identity conflicts, and extracting productivity while downloading costs of production to workers. While the advantages include enhanced autonomy, reduction in unproductive time and increased affordances in participation, empowerment and worker agency, the article weighs the potential, parallel impacts of worker control and reduction in personal wellbeing. Although it seems that the work-from-home arrangement is, predominantly, here to stay, I argue that workers consent to their demise, as the dark side of enforced work-from-home arrangements detract from the benefits of in-person social relations of work and learning.
... Furthermore, GE work is temporary and short-term [28]. Since food-delivery GE platforms require a sufficient number of workers to meet client demands, autonomy and temporary work can pose challenges [29]. Lin et al. [11]: 2) explain that food-delivery GE platforms use "algorithmic management to automate human-related duties and functions, which are traditionally performed by human resource managers." ...
... According to several authors [8,10,29] food delivery by independent workers can negatively affect service performance. In the following sections, this possibility is analyzed based on the service quality construct. ...
... In theory, this type of worker freely decides how and when to work, which can negatively affect the factors and dimensions of food-delivery service quality, such as those mentioned in the previous section. The reasons include not having enough providers, providers not working when the GE platform needs them, and providers following their own rules [29,48]. Reyes et al. [10] noted that the GE model in food delivery can cause uncertainty in service scheduling (e.g., couriers are free to choose when to work), dispatching (e.g., couriers can reject some assignments), and routing (e.g., couriers can disregard the suggested sequence of deliveries). ...
Article
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Gig economy delivery services such as food delivery are common in many cities. The business models for these services rely on self-employment. Studies suggest that this model can negatively affect service quality and client satisfaction. This study proposes that food-delivery services in the gig economy will show worse results compared to traditional professional service companies regarding service quality and client satisfaction. To test this proposition, a thematic analysis of approximately 3000 consumer reviews was conducted. The results do not support the premise that consumers’ perceptions of services in the gig economy are worse.
... Although TCT has been used to study governance issues of traditional firms, it can also be used to study the governance issues of partners outside the boundaries of digital firms (Gawer, 2020). Second, few studies have tried to explore issues faced by delivery partners from the context of labor process theory (Heiland, 2022;Veen et al., 2020). In addition, the strategic choice of suppliers/restaurant partners, whether they want to participate in financial transactions on online food delivery platforms, have been explored, but issues of restaurants as partners of online food delivery platforms have not been explored yet . ...
... Gawer (2020) has discussed the dynamically changing platform boundaries, which include platform scope, platform sides and digital interfaces. A couple of studies have also discussed how aggregators used algorithmic control on external entities (Griesbach et al., 2019;Veen et al., 2020). There are also a few studies on food delivery platforms exploring the strategic decision of restaurant owners to join the food delivery platforms and how the rating and assortment choices impact the decision to participate on the platform Kathuria et al., 2020. ...
... But various restrictions and controls are imposed indirectly through the app to make sure that partners behave and perform according to the platform owner's will. Few recent studies have focused on how platforms indirectly exert control on partners using algorithmic control by leveraging the information asymmetry they enjoy (Rosenblat and Stark, 2016;Griesbach et al., 2019;Veen et al., 2020). ...
Article
Purpose This paper aims to explore the governance of external entities that lie outside the boundaries of digital platform firms by using the theoretical lens of the transaction cost theory (TCT). TCT offers alternative modes of governance for effectively managing transactions in market, hierarchy or hybrid scenarios providing a perfect framework to study platform governance. Design/methodology/approach The paper explores governance issues between restaurant partners and online food delivery platforms in India via qualitative analysis of semi-structured interviews of various stakeholders, including restaurant partners and platform managers. Findings The study reveals that information asymmetry, opportunism, control and trust deficit are the major strategic governance issues in online food delivery platforms. Research limitations/implications Though care had been taken to cover all types of restaurants, due to lockdown number of restaurants studied was restricted in number. Despite the restrictions, findings provided valuable insights into the governance issues of the digital platform. Challenging times like Covid-19 make the study even more crucial from the strategic perspective. The study also adds to the literature on platform governance and provides practical implications for account managers and policymakers. Practical implications The study uncovers various critical governance issues. These, if resolved using the right combination of governance mechanisms, will lead to increased partner participation and value creation on the platform. Originality/value Platforms outsource the value creation to external entities without having any hierarchical control over partners. The paper studies governance outside the boundaries of the firm using TCT. Hence, it helps to extend governance outside the boundaries of the firm.
... Furthermore, algorithmic control mechanisms and the opacity of their operation have been examined (Rosenblat and Stark, 2016;Moore and Joyce, 2020), as well as the resistances triggered by platform workers (Vandaele, 2018). Particularly, the absence of formal labor relations, riders' low salaries, lack of transparency in algorithms, and the workers' protests and organization attempts have been emphasized about the odp s (Cant, 2019;Veen et al., 2019). ...
... In the case of digital platforms where the worker starts the labor relationship (Howcroft and Bergvall-Kåreborn, 2019), as in the case of odp s, algorithmic control is only one of the possible mechanisms. As mentioned by Veen et al. (2019), hybrid control modalities are observed in this type of platforms, having three elements in common computing control carried out by specialists to supervise work in real time; information asymmetries to limit workers' choice and discretion when taking orders; and, the opacity of automatized management systems, restricting the comprehension of the existing rules systems. 7 4 ...
... For instance, legal actions against Uber or Deliveroo have been reported in the United Kingdom, impugning the self-employed status and opening a discussion on minimum wage for these workers . However, resistance practices vary according to the labor market and the economic and political context, which can lead to more or less effective collective or individual resistances (Johnston and Land-Kazlauskas, 2018;Veen et al., 2019). ...
Article
This article describes and analyzes the labor process of Rappi, one of the main ordering and delivery platforms ( odp ) in Latin America. An exploratory qualitative case study was carried out and the results are based on the content analysis of 20 semi-structured interviews to platform workers as well as ethnographic work done in 2019–2020 in Santiago de Chile. This article contributes to, first, describe and analyze labor processes organized by an odp whose property and operation is managed in the Global South; second, it enables to explore the role played by Rappi within the Chilean retail production network; third, it connects diverse labor processes organized by odp s further on the ‘pick-up and deliver’ orders task; finally, it analyzes different control mechanisms executed by Rappi beyond algorithmic control, together with individual and collective resistance practices adopted by shoppers and riders. (Individuals are eligible for free access to the Journal of Labor and Society until 31 December 2022, using access token JLSO4U. https://brill.com/fileasset/downloads_products/37770_JLSO4U.pdf)
... They argue that this unobtrusive management form gives employers direct performance data while 'tending to obscure the real locus of power over production ' (1991: 14). This argument has recently been applied to understand how feedback, rankings and rating systems mediated by digital platforms impact the labour process of the service-based gig economy (Gandini, 2019;Veen et al., 2020). However, it is not known whether the customer centricity implied through servitization triggers managerial controls similar to interactive service work, nor really how servitization even manifests in a cultural production industry such as game development. ...
... This is similar to the control enacted on platform-based service workers through rating and feedback systems in the 'gig economy' (Gandini, 2019;Veen et al., 2020) and the 'management by customer' approach enacted on interactive service workers (Fuller and Smith, 1991), but it is not the same. GaaS is different than front-line customer service in the service sector because it implicates both service and production. ...
Article
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The digital game industry has embraced servitization – a strategic orientation toward customer centricity in production-based firms – to deeply monetize digital games. Though some note the resource-intensive nature of delivering services and suggest inherent risks in its adoption, extant literature is uncritical. This article draws on labour process theory to critique the impact of servitization on workers at the point of production. We conducted in-depth interviews at a large North American game development studio. The results show the human cost of servitization, generally overshadowed by financial considerations. Specifically, we theorize that servitization increases the indeterminacy of labour and this must be compensated for if servitization is to realize its cost-benefit potential. The result is an intensification of labour through additional control imperatives which make workers accountable to consumers through deterministic success metrics, impact the creative process and direct creative outputs in real time.
... A growing concern in this field of study is that AM comes at the expense of worker interests. More specific and rather alarming concerns are linked to the instrumentalisation and dehumanisation of work(ers) that AM precipitates (De Stefano, 2020; Gal et al., 2020;Gandini, 2019;Kellogg et al., 2020;Meijerink & Bondarouk, 2021;Veen et al., 2020). For example, Gandini (2019) addresses how algorithmic rating systems turn real-world experiences into numbers or stars, and quantify the workers subject to this system, thereby dehumanising them. ...
... For example, Gandini (2019) addresses how algorithmic rating systems turn real-world experiences into numbers or stars, and quantify the workers subject to this system, thereby dehumanising them. Moreover, there are many articles that show how AM instrumentalises workers through soft surveillance and by gaining economic value out of workforces (Kellogg et al., 2020;Newlands, 2020;Veen et al., 2020). ...
Article
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This paper proposes a conceptual framework to study and evaluate the impact of ‘Algorithmic Management’ (AM) on worker dignity. While the literature on AM addresses many concerns that relate to the dignity of workers, a shared understanding of what worker dignity means, and a framework to study it, in the context of software algorithms at work is lacking. We advance a conceptual framework based on a Capability Approach (CA) as a route to understanding worker dignity under AM. This paper contributes to the existing AM literature which currently is mainly focused on exploitation and violations of dignity and its protection. By using a CA, we expand this focus and can evaluate the possibility that AM might also enable and promote dignity. We conclude that our CA-based conceptual framework provides a valuable means to study AM and then discuss avenues for future research into the complex relationship between worker dignity and AM systems.
... For example, platform-mediated work is part of a continuous process toward the precarization of work already evident in the previous decades through offshoring and outsourcing of labor [11][12][13]. Also, digital technologies delineate platforms from traditional companies [14] in the way they transform the content, distribution, and control of work, emphasizing a break from previous approaches to labor control [15][16][17]. ...
... Algorithmic management is a feature that distinguishes platforms from traditional companies [14] in the manner they approach labor control [15][16][17]. Algorithmic management refers to how "human jobs are assigned, optimized, and evaluated through algorithms and tracked data" ([44] p. 1). The extensive work monitoring and potential biases embedded in automated decision-making systems contribute to work pressures and cloak platform accountability [45]. ...
Article
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The platform economy’s emergence challenges the current labor regulations hinged upon the binary employer–employee relations established during the industrial age. While this burgeoning phenomenon presents several possibilities for workers, customers, and businesses alike, scholars from various fields have sounded alarms regarding pitfalls in platform-mediated work (PMW). The regulation of working conditions, health, and safety risks are integral to these worries. Drawing upon existing research and empirical data from 49 qualitative interviews with several stakeholders, this paper explores the various dimensions of power exerted by platforms and the mismatch with the current risk regulatory framework. Four regulatory gaps are identified and the concept ‘regulatory escape’ is introduced. The study posits that taming powerful platforms requires harnessing adequate regulatory capacity grounded on developing an expansive view of regulation that encompasses all forms of socio-economic influence. The paper invokes reflection on the existing regulatory systems in society and calls for a more profound and inclusive debate on platform-mediated work and how regulatory gaps can be closed.
... 14 This is despite the platforms having considerable and "employer-like" control over the activities of these workers, including standardization of services and pay rates. 15 The self-employment status of digital platform workers has been steadily contested in the law courts across international jurisdictions 16 and is the subject of a proposed European standard that, if passed, would provide a list of control criteria to determine whether the platform is an "employer." 7 Studies have identified ways in which digital platform gigs pose risk to workers' physical and mental health. ...
... 23,24 Studies of platform workers find that, although platforms emphasize the flexibility of workers to choose when they work, this characterization underplays the active role that digital platform companies play in standardizing services and monitoring workers. 15 Working times are mostly dictated by consumer demand and platform incentive payments and work is managed by the platform company to a significant degree. 21 In 2021, the European Commission 7 proposed a directive on improving working conditions in platform work. ...
Article
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Introduction: As they deliver food, packages, and people across cities, digital platform drivers (gig workers) are in a key position to become infected with COVID-19 and transmit it to many others. The aim of this study is to identify perceived COVID-19 exposure and job risks faced by workers and document the measures in place to protect their health, and how workers responded to these measures. Methods: In 2020-2021, in-depth interviews were conducted in Ontario, Canada, with 33 digital platform drivers and managers across nine platforms that delivered food, packages, or people. Interviews focused on perceived COVID-19 risks and mitigation strategies. Audio recordings were transcribed verbatim and uploaded to NVivo software for coding by varied dual pairs of researchers. A Stakeholder Advisory Committee played an instrumental role in the study. Results: As self-employed workers were without the protection of employment and occupational health standards, platform workers absorbed most of the occupational risks related to COVID-19. Despite safety measures (e.g., contactless delivery) and financial support for COVID-19 illnesses introduced by platform companies, perceived COVID-19 risks remained high because of platform-related work pressures, including rating systems. We identify five key COVID-19 related risks faced by the digital platform drivers. Conclusion: We situate platform drivers within the broad context of precarious employment and recommend organizational- and government-level interventions to prevent digital platform worker COVID-19 risks and to assist workers ill with COVID-19. Measures to protect the health of platform workers would benefit public health aims by reducing transmission by drivers to families, customers, and consequently, the greater population.
... Though, precariousness and exploitative practices are part of the labour market reality in the platform economy (Veen et al., 2017). It calls for affirmative actions towards desirable digital enterprises and should be necessary to improve workers' conditions. ...
Article
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This study tries to establish a conceptual and empirical understanding of the precarity of work in the platform economy using food aggregators as illustrations and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. Internet access and smartphone facilitated the creation of platform aggregators, which emerged as a new workspace for young workers in India. However, food aggregators term these workers as 'delivery partners'; this changes the employer-employee relations and allows companies to avoid liabilities and reduce costs. This has led to systematic exploitation and dismal working conditions for food delivery workers. Further, Workers at platforms suffer from low wages (and benefit), absence (or lack) of welfare measures, and discriminatory practices. The COVID-19 pandemic and resultant lockdown have further aggravated the precarity of on-demand work and workers. Pandemic has shown that with loss of livelihood and income, the notion of autonomy and flexibility at work is meant for the privileged few. This precarious situation of food delivery workers calls for affirmative action in terms of regulations, social security, and protection.
... The company appears to be absolved of its responsibilities, removing existing avenues through which workers understand and demand these responsibilities are met. Workers are put at the mercy of processes they have little control or recourse over (Loi, Ferrario et al. 2020, Veen et al., 2020, Purcell and Brook 2020, Joyce and Stuart 2021. ...
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This review seeks to present a comprehensive picture of recent discussions in the social sciences of the anticipated impact of AI on the world of work. Issues covered include: technological unemployment, algorithmic management, platform work and the politics of AI work. The review identifies the major disciplinary and methodological perspectives on AI's impact on work, and the obstacles they face in making predictions. Two parameters influencing the development and deployment of AI in the economy are highlighted: the capitalist imperative and nationalistic pressures.
... According to some professional norms, platform-mediated gigs imply the deskilling of and disrespect for workers due to the lower quality of service orders and workers' limited autonomy in choosing customers. Workers may challenge the dominance of platforms by multi-platforming and using non-compliance as resistance (Veen et al., 2020a). Workers' participation in the gig economy is also shaped by the institutional arrangements of social policies in HK, such as the means-tested social housing and MPF. ...
Article
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Informed by the economic sociology of work, this qualitative study employs a dynamic and multi-dimensional notion of embeddedness to critique the social bases of gig work and the platform-mediated labour market, with a series of embedding, disembedding and re-embedding forces. Conducting in-depth interviews with 24 gig workers, the findings reveal how gig work is incorporated into Hong Kong's labour market and the ways in which gig work is reshaping the power of workers via digital platforms. First, gig work is institutionally embedded in a policy framework centred on weak regulation and protection, resulting in platforms' expandable and retractable control over labour. Second, gig work is embedded in occupational norms and professional practices, in which workers practise multi-platforming and marketplace resistance when defending their interests. Finally, the embedded connectivity of gig work boosts the scalability of labour market competition but engenders algorithmic opacity. The marketplace bargaining power of gig workers is twofold: workers' dependence on platforms and their working status. Hence, the embeddedness of gig work and platforms is far from stable but involves new tensions that challenge the gigification and platformisation of work.
... They demonstrate, for example, how workers can respond to algorithmic control by deploying a form of output restriction-a long-noted practice (e.g., Lupton, 1963). They also draw out distinct features of control systems such as close methods of measurement and control and information asymmetries between workers and the platforms (e.g., Veen et al., 2020) and identify three forms of worker resistance. There are two limitations. ...
Article
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The concept of a structured antagonism lying at the heart of the employment relationship is widely cited but also commonly misinterpreted. The paper firstly returns to the origin of the concept to locate its approach to workplace industrial relations. It forms part of labour process analysis, within which its distinct emphasis is twofold: a focus on levels of analysis, such that the connections between the underlying antagonism and concrete behaviour can be interrogated; and a preference for comparative analysis, which allows the relevant processes to be identified. In this paper, we apply these themes to contemporary workplaces such as those in the gig economy. Recent research demonstrates substantial empirical and theoretical progress but can be taken further using the above two ideas. A methodological checklist emerges to guide a future programme of research.
... Literature on digital labor and food delivery was scarce until a few years ago and has boomed only recently (e.g. Abilio et al., 2021;Graham, 2020, 2021;Barratt et al., 2020;Ferrari and Graham, 2021;Gregory, 2020;Moore and Woodcock, 2021;Tassinari and Maccarrone, 2020;Veen et al., 2020); however, in the context of China, there are still few studies (e.g, Lei, 2021;Liu and Friedman, 2021;Sun, 2019) focusing on how workers adapt to this work context and how they negotiate and react to the algorithmic power of food delivery companies. ...
Article
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This study explores how Chinese riders game the algorithm-mediated governing system of food delivery service platforms and how they mobilize WeChat to build solidarity networks to assist each other and better cope with the platform economy. We rely on 12 interviews with Chinese riders from 4 platforms (Meituan, Eleme, SF Express and Flash EX) in 5 cities, and draw on a 4-month online observation of 7 private WeChat groups. The article provides a detailed account of the gamification ranking and competition techniques employed by delivery platforms to drive the riders to achieve efficiency and productivity gains. Then, it critically explores how Chinese riders adapt and react to the algorithmic systems that govern their work by setting up private WeChat groups and developing everyday practices of resilience and resistance. This study demonstrates that Chinese riders working for food delivery platforms incessantly create a complex repertoire of tactics and develop hidden transcripts to resist the algorithmic control of digital platforms.
... The dynamics of the state machinery affecting employment regulation must also be considered. While governmental power may privilege private corporate accumulation, the spaces for regulation are not without competing sources of influence from among multiple (elite, or technocratic) labour market actors (Veen et al., 2020). In this regulatory context, the role played by the British state has been central in propping-up 'light touch' and 'explorative' regulatory approaches for businesses in the gig-economy. ...
Article
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Using the concept of regulatory space, this article asks how both the state and non-state actors influence employment regulations particular to the gig-economy. To address this question a mixed method approach is used, including interviews with strategically placed informants involved in policy formation at national and international levels, content analysis of legal cases, parliamentary inquiry transcripts and policy reports. The analysis contributes to an understanding of employment regulation by the state in two ways. First, it reports distinct ‘levers’, which lead to a particular state role of ‘ceding and seizing’ regulatory power. Second, it argues that these levers ultimately serve the accumulation interests of capital over the legitimacy of employment rights for labour. The findings have wider societal implications for issues of equity, justice and employment regulation applicable to the gig-economy.
... Griesbach et al. (2019) argued that by granting workers a degree of autonomy, employers can effectively secure workers' consent to their own exploitation. Gandini (2019) and Veen et al. (2020) also analyzed the forms of control that are enacted upon platform workers as a consequence of working through (and for) a platform. The platform organization collects detailed data about the worker's activity and produces metrics that are used for the evaluation of their performance. ...
... According to affect theory of social exchange (Lawler, 2001) when exchange successfully occur, actors experience emotional uplift. Negative learning is also possible: as an example, based on the SE setup, the PP might engage with the platform inspired by the ideas of communal living, but their motives might change towards what Belk (2014) calls pseudo-sharing or even to cheating and misbehaviour (Veen, Barratt, & Goods, 2020). ...
Article
Peer (service) providers (PPs) are the frontline actors on sharing economy platforms (SEPs), and to date have received very limited attention in academic literature. These actors enter in economic exchanges with other stakeholders in the platform ecosystem by giving access to their underutilized assets – both tangible (vehicles, accommodation, clothes, etc.) and intangible (skills, time, etc.). Monetary compensation is the immediate and obvious benefit that these actors obtain. However, it has been shown that extrinsic benefits might not be sufficient to outweigh the evident costs associated with platform governance and spot-based transactions. This research is one of the first attempts to explore the satisfaction and loyalty of PPs, comparing capital and labour sharing platforms. We build on the social exchange theory and cost–benefit approach, developing the PP satisfaction model. Using structural equation modelling we analyse data from 205 PPs. We find that satisfaction with the platform and with the role of PP are related to loyalty. Sensitivity to the peer-to-peer business model is developed as a result of experiences and also impacts on loyalty.
... This second perspective highlights the power of algorithms to structure reality and shows how they can take over functions which were traditionally performed by the employer (Prassl and Risak, 2015), such as assignment or performance management. Here, platform work organization is frequently compared to neo-Taylorism (McGaughey, 2018) or a digital Panopticon (Duggan et al., 2019;Veen et al., 2020) as it features real-time behavioral tracking and/or sanctioning, and disciplines workers in order to impose managerial ends (Kellogg et al., 2020). However, even in the case of particularly disciplinary "management machines" (Girin, 1983), Francophone research on management tools (Berry, 1983;Hatchuel and Weil, 1992;De Vaujany, 2005) stresses the impasses of this pursuit of total control given the persistence of users' strategies of re-appropriation. ...
... The company appears to be absolved of its responsibilities, removing existing avenues through which workers understand and demand these responsibilities are met. Workers are put at the mercy of processes they have little control or recourse over (Loi et al. 2020, Veen et al., 2020Purcell and Brook 2020;Joyce and Stuart 2021). These concerns overlap with debates surrounding algorithmic decision-making transparency standards, recently canvased by Günther and Kasirzadeh (2022). ...
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This review seeks to present a comprehensive picture of recent discussions in the social sciences of the anticipated impact of AI on the world of work. Issues covered include: technological unemployment, algorithmic management, platform work and the politics of AI work. The review identifies the major disciplinary and methodological perspectives on AI’s impact on work, and the obstacles they face in making predictions. Two parameters influencing the development and deployment of AI in the economy are highlighted: the capitalist imperative and nationalistic pressures.
... Les plateformes illustrent l'archétype de l'organisation "gérée par des algorithmes", dans laquelle "des algorithmes autoapprenants se voient confier la responsabilité de prendre et d'exécuter les décisions affectant le travail, limitant ainsi l'implication humaine et la surveillance du processus de travail" (Duggan et al., 2020, p. 6). Notamment, la "disposition panoptique" des plateformes de livraison de plats cuisinés (Veen et al., 2020) limiterait explicitement l'autonomie des travailleurs. ...
... Banyak pengemudi yang justru waktu kerjanya habis untuk menunggu pesanan masuk di akunnya. Ketidakpastian mendapatkan pekerjaan berupa pesanan konsumen tersebut menjadi ciri utama dari kerja gig, dan dalam banyak kasus, dimanfaatkan oleh perusahaan platform untuk mengontrol dan menundukan pengemudi online dalam aturan main yang mereka terapkan (Gandini, 2019;Veen et al., 2020). ...
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Dalam berjalannya transportasi berbasis platform di Indonesia, penentuan tarif dibagi dalam tiga layanan, yaitu layanan antar penumpang, barang, dan makanan. Dalam layanan antar penumpang, tarif ditentukan berdasarkan Peraturan Menteri Perhubungan (Permenhub) PM No. 12 Tahun 2019. Kemudian aturan tersebut diturunkan dalam Keputusan Menteri perhubungan (Kepmenhub) No. 348 Tahun 2019 yang membagi penentuan tarif layanan antar penumpang menjadi tiga zona, dengan tarif dasar dan tarif batas atas-bawah yang berbeda. Sementara tarif layanan non-penumpang orang, yaitu barang dan makanan, diatur dalam Peraturan Menteri Komunikasi dan Informatika (Permenkominfo) No. 01 Tahun 2012, yang merupakan turunan dari UU No. 38 Tahun 2009 tentang Pos. Dalam aturan tersebut, penentuan tarif antar barang dan makanan diserahkan kepada mekanisme pasar. Artinya pemerintah tidak melakukan intervensi penentuan tarif, dengan pertimbangan bahwa kompetisi yang sempurna dan hukum permintaan-penawaran akan menciptakan besaran titik keseimbangan tarif yang adil dan menguntungkan bagi semua pihak (Novianto, 2022). Pada praktiknya, dua bentuk mekanisme penentuan tarif saat ini belum menciptakan pendapatan yang layak bagi pengemudi online. Mekanisme pertama, penentuan tarif dasar dan batas atas-bawah oleh pemerintah pada layanan antar penumpang memiliki beberapa persoalan: 1) tarif hanya ditetapkan berdasarkan jarak per km, tidak menetapkan biaya tunggu, biaya jika ada pembatalan pesanan, dan biaya kompensasi waktu tanpa orderan; 2) penetapan tarif per km telah dihitung berdasarkan komponen biaya jasa, akan tetapi tidak dibarengi jaminan jumlah orderan minimal untuk pengemudi online agar memastikan mereka memiliki pendapatan yang layak; 3) tarif per km yang ditetapkan masih cenderung murah, sehingga memaksa pengemudi bekerja lebih lama guna memperoleh pendapatan yang cukup untuk memenuhi kebutuhan hidup sehari-hari. Mekanisme kedua, penentuan tarif yang diserahkan kepada pasar dalam layanan antar barang dan makanan memiliki persoalan yang sama dengan mekanisme pertama, dan justru lebih buruk lagi. Ketiadaan tarif batas bawah, telah memicu kompetisi di antara perusahaan platform untuk menurunkan tarif bagi pengemudi, sehingga tarif menjadi lebih rendah dibanding layanan antar penumpang.
... During COVID-19, advances in information technology and social and economic relationships have led individual workers and organizations to explore types of distributed work arrangements such as remote work. Suppose organizations switch a variant of jobs with continuous algorithmic control and panopticon digital surveillance (Veen, Barratt, & Goods, 2020) to the workforce that has moved to the home office. In that case, they can abolish the employment contract and treat home-based workers as independent contractors. ...
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COVID-19 pandemic led Indian organizations to take strategic action related to human capital. What came handy to them to run their businesses with a handful of workers after laying off others whom they wanted otherwise by giving the excuse of the pandemic is “work from-home ”. The new work arrangement happened to be unique to the majority workforce in India as there has been no federal labor law in the country that allows employers to get work done from home. However, on a deeper analysis, we cannot dispense with its long term adverse consequences on workplace solidarity. It will cripple this small section of the workforce as employees would seldom be able to meet or have regular workplace meetings, ravaging collectivization, union coverage and union density.
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Though gig platforms increasingly employ algorithmic management and monitoring, the benefits and costs of platform monitoring and how these correspond to gig workers’ cognitive work engagement are not well understood. Drawing on supervisor monitoring literature and conservation of resource theory, this study proposes two types of gig platform monitoring (observational monitoring and interactional monitoring) and builds a moderated mediation model to analyze how these platform monitoring methods impact gig workers’ cognitive work engagement. PLS-SEM analysis of data from 269 time-lagged surveys from gig workers shows that, through the mediation of affective trust, observational monitoring is negatively and interactional monitoring is positively related to cognitive work engagement. Furthermore, interactional but not observational monitoring is positively related to cognitive work engagement through the mediation of affective commitment, and method control can enhance the positive relationship between affective trust and cognitive work engagement. These findings contribute to the literature on the nature of gig platform monitoring and its impacts on gig workers’ cognitive work engagement by differentiating observational and interactional monitoring. Gig platform managers will benefit from knowing that interactional but not observational monitoring can promote gig workers’ work engagement.
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Technical Report
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This paper presents findings from the Leeds Index of Platform Labour Protest, a database of platform worker protest events around the world which gathers data from online news media reports and other online sources. For the period January 2017 to July 2020, we identified 1,271 instances of worker protest in four platform sectors: ride-hailing, food delivery, courier services and grocery delivery. Our results show that the single most important cause of platform worker protest is pay, with other protested issues including employment status, and health and safety. In most global regions, strikes, log-offs and demonstrations predominated as a form of protest. Furthermore, platform worker protests showed a strong tendency to be driven from below by worker self-organization, although trade unions also had an important presence in some parts of the world. From the four platform sectors examined, ride-hailing and food delivery accounted for most protest events. Although the growth of platform worker organization is remarkable, formal collective bargaining is uncommon, as is formal employment, with ad hoc self-organized groups of workers dominating labour protest across the different sectors, particularly in the global South.
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To promote human development and flourishing and the creation of just and sustainable workplaces, HRD professionals need a better understanding of the political and economic forces shaping organizational realities. We need new models, grounded in an updated understanding of the political economy of labor and workforce development. This essay offers a brief critique of the current models and discusses alternative ways of thinking about political and economic mechanisms that can promote human flourishing, equity, and sustainability. We offer suggestions for how HRD researchers and practitioners can use this new lens to develop interventions and advance scholarship.
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El capítulo propone revisar y debatir en torno a las implicancias del fenómeno emergente de las plataformas, en clave de los debates del capitalismo cognitivo, el trabajo material e inmaterial y las lógicas extractivas de estos modelos de negocio. Para esto, se presenta un muy breve panorama acerca de qué se concibe como plataformas, pasando revista de su desembarco en Argentina, para luego continuar con el debate del trabajo. Por último, se abordan cuestiones vinculadas a aspectos regulatorios y a los efectos de la crisis del COVID-19 para estos modelos de negocio.
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In 2018, Uber released an overhauled mobile application for its independent contractor workforce, who had become increasingly dissatisfied by the lack of autonomy, transparency, and flexibility while working on the platform. Based on the gamification of work, the application linked individualized rewards with Uber’s need to maintain a frictionless marketplace. However, as recent studies of gig economy have revealed, workers resist gamified algorithmic management by developing work games. Our findings, based upon analysis of driver accounts of using Uber’s application, presents a typology of player modes and work games that drivers play. We identified two distinctive player modes, grinding and oppositional play, which, respectively, illustrate how drivers consent and resist gamification. We also describe several work games that Uber drivers play in resistance to Uber’s gamification. This study contributes to the understanding of how the (re)design of worker-facing apps shape the power dynamics underpinning platform-initiated algorithmic governance and worker-initiated games.
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The development of technology and the flexibility to work in non-traditional ways has led to the emergence of task-based gig workers and this trend has been spreading across Japan. However, the ambiguity of the legal position on app-based on-demand gig workers has led to inequalities in labour relations. This study examines the labour union actions against the employers and related bodies of the online food delivery platform Uber Eats Union to determine the current status and potential for bargaining. The union has requested collective bargaining on the Uber side, but all requests have been rejected. The admissibility of the union’s actions to improve industrial relations depended on two points: the application of the worker character in the law to the delivery workers and the demand for support from other institutions. In terms of the law, the recognition of the worker status of delivery workers is a significant step towards collective bargaining with firms. The active work of the Uber Eats Union could lead to the formation of new labour unions on other platforms and the empowerment of platform workers. Based on Japan’s experience, this paper also draws some lessons for Malaysia’s gig economy.
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The impact of technological change on employment, inequality and job quality has attracted considerable analysis from both scholars and practitioners. However, less attention has been paid to how digital technologies are changing contemporary workplaces and how workers are responding to these changes. This article reviews recent research from the multidisciplinary comparative employment relations field, with a focus on institutional resilience or change associated with digitalization; and the strategic responses of unions and other worker representatives to these trends. We find that the insights of economists, sociologists and employment relations scholars are complementary, as each addresses a different dimension of technological change and associated worker outcomes. Comparative employment relations researchers are more likely to influence current debates where they both articulate the unique contribution of their multi-method and comparative research methods and aggregate findings beyond single or paired industry and national case studies.
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The well‐known metaphor of ‘panopticon’, derived from Bentham's project and popularized by Foucault, has long informed scholarly conversations in management and organization studies (MOS). Herein, we question the power of this emblematic metaphor. Through an in‐depth literature review specifying its form, principle and goal, coupled to an investigation of Bentham's original writings, we identify two readings of the panopticon. First, we disentangle the uses of this concept in MOS literature and highlight a rather uniform and negative interpretation of the panopticon as a mechanism of social control and surveillance (first reading). Beyond this dominant interpretation, we contend that the panopticon is a richer concept than MOS literature acknowledges. Going back to Bentham's initial project, entailing not only one but plural types of panopticons, we propose a more comprehensive conceptualization of the panopticon (second reading) as: (1) a rewarding functional dispositive based on freedom and autonomy (form); (2) relying on information sharing, transparency and visibility (principle); and (3) striving for harmony and efficiency as ultimate ends (goal). In doing so, we generate a new way of seeing the panopticon in MOS research. We also reveal an inherent tension between both readings, interpreted as dystopia and utopia, and show that their combination allows grasping the ambivalence of panopticism in practice in ways that can inform further research on liberal management. As a practice of freedom, panopticism in practice might indeed turn into an instrument furthering control. To conclude, we highlight some analytical paths to help MOS scholars disentangle such ambivalence.
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Online-to-offline food delivery becomes popular in recent years, but the continuous growth of food couriers’ dangerous driving behavior causes severe traffic risk. This study explores the underline reasons for courier’s dangerous driving behavior in food delivery and suggests governmental regulations to mitigate traffic risk. We consider a supply chain including a platform and consumers, where the platform employs couriers to deliver food from restaurants to consumers in a time window. To conduct the research, we formulate consumers’ demand for food with statistical analysis. We then consider a Stackberg game between the platform and the government. Referring to the practice in public traffic management, spot check and information sharing of traffic violations are two common policies in government regulations. We find government’s efforts of information publicity effective for reducing courier’s dangerous driving behavior, thus mitigating the traffic risk in food delivery. The effectiveness of efforts on spot checks is on the contrary. Therefore, we propose an optimal policy serial of spot check and information publicity respecting different decision situations. The numeral experiments indicate that the policy is effective.
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Location has historically been vital to a restaurant's success. However, in the past decade, on-demand food delivery (ODFD) platforms like Meituan, Deliveroo, and Uber Eats have progressively increased their market shares, recently facilitated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the new circumstances, are restaurants still constrained by conventional locational factors, such as transport accessibility, customer proximity, and industrial agglomeration? How do ODFD platforms impact the geography of restaurants? This paper innovatively offers a comparative analysis of the different spatial distributions of brick-and-mortar and platform-dependent restaurants. Based on the case of Nanjing, China, robust empirical evidence demonstrates how platformization has spatially affected the catering sector. Using data from the most popular Chinese ODFD platform, Meituan, we analyze the following spatial characteristics of the catering sector in the urban core of Nanjing: transport accessibility, density pattern, agglomeration degree, and horizontal and vertical locational patterns. The findings suggest that platform-dependent restaurants have reduced dependence on transport accessibility. Compared with traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, platform-dependent restaurants are more dispersed spatially, not only horizontally but also vertically. The digital turn in the catering sector is also noticeably associated with the rise of informal restaurants, such as ghost kitchens in vacant high-rise office spaces.
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Time is money. According to E.P. Thompson, this saying lies at the core of the logic of capitalism. And yet, in the vast literature on state-capital relations, the strategic value of time has remained relatively neglected compared to rent distribution and monetary exchanges. Elaborating on the recruitment of migrants by employers and their intermediaries in Mauritius, this article explores the role of bureaucratic time and delays in businesses’ access to the fundamental resource for economic accumulation: labour. It reveals a bifurcated bureaucratic pathway, a two-speed logic in the Mauritian bureaucracy of migration. On one side is the lengthy and unpredictable process of administering the authorisations to recruit foreign workers; on the other appear what I term the “shortcuts through the red tape”, the exemptions to the bureaucratic procedures and delays that benefit politically connected actors. Drawing on this case study, I contend that the politics of waiting, inherent to bureaucratic routine, matters in the relations between business and the state.
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Dedication We gratefully acknowledge the invaluable contributions to the research that we discuss here by our dear friend and colleague the late Dr Sandra Cockfield; we miss her greatly. We dedicate this article to her. For a tribute to her see www.monash.edu/vale/home/articles/vale-dr-sandra-cockfield .
Conference Paper
How do low-skilled platform workers organize themselves in order to cope with the lack of state regulation and the gig nature of their job ? Based on a case study of food-delivery platform work in France, this article examines the new self-regulations of labor that results from uncertain legal developments of platform work (Aloisi, 2022), the ambiguous flexibility of algorithmic management (Shapiro, 2018) and the individual agency of platform workers (Lee et al., 2015). While the marginality of formal social dialogue and labor intermediaries (Bureau & Corsani, 2018) in platform work weakens traditional forms of work collectives, we highlight how this neglect leads platform workers to rely on more identity-based and community-based forms of regulation, particularly on religious grounds. The ambiguities of use of digital artifacts of algorithmic management indeed lead workers to construct margins of maneuver for their religious agency. This autonomy is then reinvested by the religious community of practitioners through the sharing of informational and emotional resources leading to a new religious social control over the workers. We also point out how the actualization of the digital artifact to express religious agency insidiously leads platform workers to consent to the precariousness and power asymmetries of platform labor (Srnicek, 2017).
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Dadas las características del trabajo en las plataformas digitales, se han generado nuevas formas de resistencia y movilización. En el presente artículo se abordan algunas de las realidades de la movilización y organización en el conflicto de las plataformas a través del análisis del discurso de trabajadores y extrabajadores que se han movilizado en los últimos años. Así, se analiza cómo han supuesto un reto y un desafío para las organizaciones, prácticas y formulaciones sindicales tradicionales, por lo que se han generado nuevas o readaptadas formas de hacer sindicalismo en un ámbito novedoso como el de las plataformas digitales. Esta investigación está centrada en el caso de las plataformas digitales de reparto de comida y mensajería en España.
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This article explores variations in job quality for young workers by analysing six employers across three industrial sectors of Greater Manchester, an English city-region. Four aspects of job quality are examined because of their centrality in shaping how youth labour-power is deployed in the labour process: technological utilisation, work-rate, autonomy and discretion, and opportunities for training and career progression. Primary data were collected from 30 semi-structured interviews with business owners, managers, young workers and from workplace observations. Findings reveal job quality is high in advanced manufacturing and creative and digital sectors, but low in business services. Job quality is shaped by the nature of commodity production and accompanying labour process. Development or degradation of young workers in the labour process depends largely on the requirements of the employer, as few countervailing pressures exist. Training provision improves job quality, but demand-side interventions are required to generate sustainable good jobs for young workers.
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This article draws on a study conducted over a period of 17 months, including chatnography and semi-structured interviews with 30 female platform drivers working in China’s hail-riding industry, and makes three important contributions to the labour process and the social reproduction process scholarship. First, it fills a gap in the burgeoning literature on the gendered experience of gig work and of work–family flexibility in an on-demand economy. Women’s surplus production, as a means of subsistence for oneself and the family, is contradictory to childcare commitments in the labour process. Second, it theorises that the communicative space is a space for social reproduction in which labour-power is replenished outside the household. Labour productivity is not solely determined by algorithmic logic and platform control, but rather is organised by the social reproduction process. Third, it discusses how female platform workers negotiate technological insecurity and resist the platform’s control over and sexual exploitation in the communicative space. This sheds light on how the social reproduction process creates a potential for women’s solidarity. Women fight against sexual harassment and gender-based violence by utilising communication technologies, such as WeChat and TikTok. The social reproduction process organises labour resistance in a time of individual and collective crisis.
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Zusammenfassung Der Beitrag widmet sich im Rahmen eines Systematic Literature Reviews sowie einer qualitativen Inhaltsanalyse der Untersuchung von Online-Arbeitsmärkten und der dort vermittelten Arbeit. Vor dem Hintergrund einer unübersichtlichen Literaturlage besteht das Ziel in der Analyse und Systematisierung der Besonderheiten von Plattformarbeit. Dafür werden 235 zwischen 2010 und 2020 erschienene thematisch relevante Publikationen daraufhin untersucht, (1) welche Disziplinen mit welchen Methoden in welchen Kontexten plattformbasierte Arbeit erforschen; (2) welche Dimensionen von Arbeit sie thematisieren; (3) welche Akteurinnen und Akteure und Institutionen Arbeit prägen; und (4) auf welche Art und Weise sie dies tun. Der Beitrag analysiert den Stand der Forschung zu den Einflussfaktoren plattformbasierter Arbeit und identifiziert Forschungsdesiderata. Zudem bietet er eine Heuristik an, die die oftmals kleinteiligen Forschungsergebnisse systematisiert und aufeinander bezieht. Die Ergebnisse zeigen, dass vor allem Plattformen (als technische und organisatorische Systeme), Kundinnen und Kunden sowie die Community der Tätigen als neuartige Prägekräfte verschiedene Aspekte von Arbeit maßgeblich beeinflussen.
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Given the widespread contribution of independent contractors to organizational innovation and competitive advantage, it is timely to reassess assumptions about the HRM practices appropriate to their management and the rationale for organizations to work with them. In the original and highly influential HR architecture model of Lepak and Snell (1999), contractor status is viewed as an outcome of the low value and/or low uniqueness of human capital resulting in the proposition to externalize and manage them using either none or minimal compliance‐based HRM practices. Developments in digital technologies and algorithmic management epitomized by online labor platforms prompt us to reconsider these assumptions and to challenge the proposed links between value/uniqueness of human capital, employment mode and HRM practices that are assumed by the HR architecture model. Using insights from online labor platforms, we argue that the significant benefits to firms of working with contractors, coupled with the possibilities offered by algorithmic management to efficiently monitor and regulate their behavior, provide a compelling reason for organizations to choose external employment modes even when workers are key to value creation. We challenge the alignment and stability of the relationships proposed by the HR architecture model, and offer propositions to extend the model by reconsidering the rationale for, and nature of, HRM practices associated with contractors. This reassessment is both timely and relevant given the growing prominence of business models where externalizing workers is central alongside the development of new forms of algorithmic human resource management to control them.
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Introducción Las nuevas formas de trabajo suponen nuevas relaciones y campos de exploración sobre la forma en que los riesgos y los peligros inherentes a la labor interactúan con las condiciones de salud y seguridad de los trabajadores, especialmente en este nuevo escenario donde las comunidades laborales informales se integran en las economías colaborativas que están organizadas a través de aplicaciones digitales. Objetivo Explorar los aspectos esenciales de los factores de riesgo en salud y seguridad laboral para un grupo de bicidomiciliarios que trabajan con plataformas digitales en las principales ciudades de Colombia. Métodos Usando la observación basada en la Norma Técnica NTC4114 y lo prescrito en la Guía Técnica GTC45, los investigadores se dan a la tarea de establecer los principales factores de riesgo que se presentan en el escenario de informalidad laboral de bicidomiciliarios que trabajan con aplicaciones digitales. Resultados Se analizan los resultados obtenidos en el trabajo de campo desarrollado, creando la información necesaria para la identificación de factores de riesgo y peligros asociados a la actividad, para comprender mejor las interacciones y posibilidades de desarrollo de enfermedades laborales o accidentes de trabajo con ocasión del ejercicio de sus actividades. Conclusiones A partir de los resultados, se discuten las diferentes implicaciones de las formas de trabajo en economías colaborativas mediadas por aplicaciones digitales, donde la informalidad y la precariedad en la aplicación de medidas de control y sistemas de seguridad laboral influyen en los riesgos asociados definidos en la GTC45.
Article
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This article evaluates the job quality of work in the remote gig economy. Such work consists of the remote provision of a wide variety of digital services mediated by online labour platforms. Focusing on workers in Southeast Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa, the article draws on semi-structured interviews in six countries (N = 107) and a cross-regional survey (N = 679) to detail the manner in which remote gig work is shaped by platform-based algorithmic control. Despite varying country contexts and types of work, we show that algorithmic control is central to the operation of online labour platforms. Algorithmic management techniques tend to offer workers high levels of flexibility, autonomy, task variety and complexity. However, these mechanisms of control can also result in low pay, social isolation, working unsocial and irregular hours, overwork, sleep deprivation and exhaustion.
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Despite growing interest in the gig economy among academics, policy makers and media commentators, the area is replete with different terminology, definitional constructs and contested claims about the ensuing transformation of work organisation. The aim of this positional piece is to provide a timely review and classification of crowdwork. A typology is developed to map the complexity of this emerging terrain, illuminating range and scope by critically synthesising empirical findings and issues from multidisciplinary literatures. Rather than side-tracking into debates as to what exactly constitutes crowdwork, the purpose of the typology is to highlight commonalities rather than distinctions, enabling connections across areas. The framework serves as a heuristic device for considering the broader implications for work and employment in terms of control and coordination, regulation and classification, and collective agency and representation.
Technical Report
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‘Gig’ or platform-based work represents one of the most recent, highly-publicized labour market trends. Attributed to the increased demand for flexibility on the part of employers (Eurofound, 2015a), better labour market efficiency (IOE, 2016) and, in some cases the desire for greater flexibility on the part of workers (De Stefano, 2016), gig and platform-based work is one type of non-standard work facilitated through technology and digital markets, on-demand. Despite its relatively small size (Farrell and Grieg, 2016) the gig economy has the potential to rapidly change the way work is organized and performed, to alter the content and quality of jobs, and to reshape industries. This paper examines challenges to freedom of association and the effective recognition of the right to collective bargaining for workers in the gig economy, and explores the broad range of strategies that gig-economy workers are using to build collective agency, and to promote effective regulation of gig work.
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‘Gamification’ is understood as the application of game systems – competition, rewards, quantifying player/user behaviour – into non-game domains, such as work, productivity and fitness. Such practices are deeply problematic as they represent the capture of ‘play’ in the pursuit of neoliberal rationalization and the managerial optimization of working life and labour. However, applying games and play to social life is also central to the Situationist International, as a form of resistance against the regularity and standardization of everyday behaviour. In this article, the authors distinguish between two types of gamification: first, ‘gamification-from-above’, involving the optimization and rationalizing of work practices by management; and second, ‘gamification-from-below’, a form of active resistance against control at work. Drawing on Autonomism and Situationism, the authors argue that it is possible to transform non-games into games as resistance, rather than transferring game elements out of playful contexts and into managerial ones. Since the original ‘gamification’ term is now lost, the authors develop the alternative conception as a practice that supports workers, rather than one used to adapt behaviour to capital. The article concludes with a renewed call for this ‘gamification-from-below’, which is an ideal form of resistance against gamification-from-above and its capture of play in pursuit of work.
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The competitive pressures of neoliberal economies have compelled employers to devolve responsibilities to contractors and subcontractors. The rise information technology platforms have significantly accelerated this trend over past decade. “Sharing economy” companies have such widespread adoption of neoliberalism’s industrial relations that a new moniker—“the Gig Economy”—has taken root. Although shareholders and consumers have benefited, middle-class jobs have been squeezed in the process. This paper uses Uber as a case study to discuss how Sharing Economy entities are merely the latest iteration of companies to enact the neoliberal playbook, including (a) (mis)classifying workers, (b) engaging in regime shopping, and (c) employing the most economically vulnerable, rather than giving rise to a new world of work altogether. The result is a crowding out of middle-class employment by precarious ‘gigs’ that lack legal protections and benefits.
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Big data and sophisticated algorithms enable software to handle increasingly complex tasks, such as detecting fraud, optimizing logistics routes, and even driving cars. Beyond technical tasks, algorithms enable new ways to organize work. In this article, I suggest a distinction of optimizing-oriented and open-ended systems leveraging big data and examine how they are shaping organizational design. The optimizing-oriented systems, typically based on numerical data, enable smarter control of well-defined tasks, including algorithmic management of human work. Open-ended systems, often based on textual data or visualizations, can provide answers to a broad range of managerial questions relevant to effective organizing, thereby enabling smarter and more responsive definition of tasks and allocation of resources and effort. Algorithms processing conversations that naturally take place in organizations can form ‘computer augmented transparency’, creating a host of potential benefits, but also threats. These developments are leading to a wave of innovation in organizational design and changes to institutionalized norms of the workplace.
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Software algorithms are changing how people work in an ever-growing number of fields, managing distributed human workers at a large scale. In these work settings, human jobs are assigned, optimized, and evaluated through algorithms and tracked data. We explored the impact of this algorithmic, data-driven management on human workers and work practices in the context of Uber and Lyft, new ridesharing services. Our findings from a qualitative study describe how drivers responded when algorithms assigned work, provided informational support, and evaluated their performance, and how drivers used online forums to socially make sense of the algorithm features. Implications and future work are discussed.
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In order to assess whether new theories are necessary to explain new forms of organizing or existing theories suffice, we must first specify exactly what makes a form of organizing “new.” We propose clear criteria for making such an assessment and show how they are useful in assessing if and when new theories of organizing may truly be needed. We illustrate our arguments by contrasting forms of organizing often considered novel, such as Linux, Wikipedia, and Oticon, against their traditional counterparts. We conclude that even when there may be little that existing theory cannot explain about individual elements in these new forms of organizing, opportunities for new theorizing lie in understanding the bundles of co-occurring elements that seem to underlie them and why the same bundles occur in widely disparate organizations.
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Managerial control and its wider setting in workplace and societal regimes has been an important feature of debates in Work, Employment and Society since its inception, providing some of its most highly cited articles. This Introduction to the first e-special seeks to present 10 key and diverse articles, situating them in the context of debates inside and beyond the journal. Core themes and contentious issues are identified and particular attention is paid to the nature of normative controls. After a period in the 1990s when the control debate dipped, it is argued that there are positive signs that more recent articles are rediscovering the broader focus on workplace regimes that was characteristic of earlier, classic contributions.
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In this article, the authors describe how they used a hybrid process of inductive and deductive thematic analysis to interpret raw data in a doctoral study on the role of performance feedback in the self-assessment of nursing practice. The methodological approach integrated data-driven codes with theory-driven ones based on the tenets of social phenomenology. The authors present a detailed exemplar of the staged process of data coding and identification of themes. This process demonstrates how analysis of the raw data from interview transcripts and organizational documents progressed toward the identification of overarching themes that captured the phenomenon of performance feedback as described by participants in the study.
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This study investigates a practice that allows workers based in India to work online on projects for corporations in the United States, representing a new mode of labor integration. In the absence of direct bureaucratic control across continents, the question arises how this rapidly growing labor practice is organized. The riddle of organizational governance is solved through an analysis of software programming schemes, which are presented as the key to organizing globally dispersed labor through data servers. This labor integration through programming code is distinguished from two other systems of organization—bureaucracy and the market—while bringing out the salient features of each system in terms of its ruling principle: bureaucracy (legal-rational), the market (price), and algocracy (programming or algorithm). The logic of algocratic systems is explored methodically to analyze global work.
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Precarious work is increasingly considered the new ‘norm’ to which employment and social protection systems must adjust. This article explores the contradictions and tensions that arise from different processes of normalisation driven by social policies that simultaneously decommodify and recommodify labour. An expanded framework of decommodification is presented that identifies how the standard employment relationship (SER) may be extended and flexibilised to include those in precarious work, drawing examples from a recent study of precarious work across six European countries. These decommodification processes are found to be both partial and, in some cases, coexisting with activation policies that position precarious work as an alternative to unemployment, thereby recommodifying labour. Despite these challenges and contradictions, the article argues that a new vision of SER reform promises greater inclusion than alternative policy scenarios that give up on the regulation of employers and rely on state subsidies to mitigate against precariousness.
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Low wage growth consistently featured as the main underlying characteristic of the Australian labour market in 2017. Overall economic conditions remained weak, although unemployment was fairly static. All indicators of average wage growth declined: average weekly earnings, the wage price index and the average annual wage increase in enterprise agreements. Collective bargaining coverage continued to decline. Although the 3.3% minimum wage increase represents a modest increase in real wages for low-paid workers, the Fair Work Commission decision to reduce Sunday and public holiday penalty rates for some award-reliant workers would put further downward pressure on workers’ incomes. There were more successful applications to terminate expired enterprise agreements, including those where wage rates were thought to be uncompetitive and unsustainable. The underlying causes of low wage growth remain contested. Despite some agreement that the regulatory framework is a contributing factor, firm proposals for regulatory change are yet to emerge.
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Paid work associated with digital platform businesses (in taxi, delivery, maintenance and other functions) embodies features which complicate the application of traditional labour regulations and employment standards. This article reviews the extent of this type of work in Australia, and its main characteristics. It then considers the applicability of existing employment regulations to these ‘gig’ jobs, citing both Australian and international legislation and case law. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the scope of traditional regulations, minimum standards and remedies in the realm of irregular digitally mediated work. Regulators and policymakers should consider how to strengthen and expand the regulatory framework governing gig work. The article notes five major options in this regard: enforcement of existing laws; clarifying or expanding definitions of ‘employment’; creating a new category of ‘independent worker’; creating rights for ‘workers’, not employees; and reconsidering the concept of an ‘employer’. We review the pros and cons of these approaches and urge regulators to be creative and ambitious in better protecting the minimum standards and conditions of workers in these situations.
Chapter
The labour process debate had been dominated by arguments about deskilling. This particular focus has strengthened the already powerful tendency towards the emergence of what may be termed a revisionist orthodoxy in which the contingencies of work relationships are highlighted and the error of assuming a logic of capitalist development is criticised. As Salaman (1986: 114) puts it, ‘within the Labour Process tradition, actors were omniscient, conscious strategists, aware of, and responding to, the rationalities of Marxist analyses of work organizations within capitalism.’ Many of the chapters in this volume reflect a counter-reformation that tries to restore some of the insights that have been lost or confused in the rise of revisionism. Friedman shows that the concept of managerial strategy is useful, and indeed essential. Thompson argues for a politics of production. This chapter concentrates on the analysis of conflict.
Chapter
Considerable uncertainty exists concerning the intellectual validity and purpose of ‘labour process theory’. It is now common ground that such theory is in crisis. John Storey (1985a: 194) sums up what he considers to be the general state of play: It is not perhaps an exaggeration to claim that the labour process bandwagon has run into the sand. Indeed the catalogue of amendments and criticisms attaching to labour process theory has led a number of critics to call for little less than the abandonment of labour process theory. It has served a useful purpose but it is now holed and patched beyond repair.
Article
The so-called “gig-economy” has been growing exponentially in numbers and importance in recent years but its impact on labour rights has been largely overlooked. Forms of work in the “gig-economy” include “crowd work”, and “work-on-demand via apps”, under which the demand and supply of working activities is matched online or via mobile apps. These forms of work can provide a good match of job opportunities and allow flexible working schedules. However, they can also pave the way to a severe commodification of work. This paper discusses the implications of this commodification and advocates the full recognition of activities in the gig-economy as “work”. It shows how the gig-economy is not a separate silo of the economy and that is part of broader phenomena such as casualization and informalisation of work and the spread of non-standard forms of employment. It then addresses the issue of misclassification of the employment status of workers in the gig-economy. Current relevant trends are thus examined, such as the emergence of forms of self-organisation of workers. Finally, some policy proposals are critically analysed, such as the possibility of creating an intermediate category of worker between “employee” and “independent contractor” to classify work in the gig-economy, and other tentative proposals are put forward such extension of fundamental labour rights to all workers irrespective of employment status, and recognition of the role of social partners in this respect, whilst avoiding temptations of hastened deregulation.
Book
On examining the day-to-day operation of worker resistance and managerial counter-pressure one finds that the proletariat, rather than forming a revolutionary class, often appears to be fighting among itself. Worker resistance is unevenly developed among different groups of workers, and managers use these divisions to maintain their authority and to subdue overall resistance. The first part of this book analyses the capitalist mode of production in general, starting from Marx's framework. The usefulness of the analysis for examining concrete situations is demonstrated in industry-area studies which follow. These include 2 19th century studies (silk-ribbon trade in Hillfields and the Coventry region more generally, and hosiery in Leicester) and 2 from the 20th century (the motor cycle and the motor car industries, both focussing on Coventry and, in more detail, on Hillfields. -from Publisher
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Qualitative Data is meant for the novice researcher who needs guidance on what specifically to do when faced with a sea of information. It takes readers through the qualitative research process, beginning with an examination of the basic philosophy of qualitative research, and ending with planning and carrying out a qualitative research study. It provides an explicit, step-by-step procedure that will take the researcher from the raw text of interview data through data analysis and theory construction to the creation of a publishable work. The volume provides actual examples based on the authors' own work, including two published pieces in the appendix, so that readers can follow examples for each step of the process, from the project's inception to its finished product. The volume also includes an appendix explaining how to implement these data analysis procedures using NVIVO, a qualitative data analysis program.
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Braverman’s Labor and Monopoly Capital tapped into a late twentieth century sense that work while appearing ever safer, cleaner and more automated, was actually, less skilled, more controlled, and more intensive. For Braverman the general movement in work in the twentieth century had been towards degradation of skill and worker control, devoid of creative technical content and thought. Braverman’s monumental book drew on Marx’s writings on technology and the labour process, for the conditions of American capitalism in the 1970s. He provoked such heated debate that the term ‘Bravermania’ has entered the sociological lexicon. His analysis on the labour process in late modernity has seen scholars of organization, work and society at loggerheads over an array of issues. While some writers have attacked Braverman for underplaying the potential for worker resistance, others have defended his analysis as more nuanced and ultimately true to its Marxist inheritance. These debates, which continue to this day on both sides of the Atlantic, but as the paper demonstrates, there has been a movement away from some of the grander themes of Labor and Monopoly Capital (the state, the class structure, the universal market) towards a narrow focus on skill. But there has also been a widening of debates, with new themes (embodiment of labour, globalization, heightened mobility of labour, fragmentation of employment contracts, and spatial division of labour) which has moved labour process theory on and continued to rejuvenate discussion around the control and direction of work that Braverman helped to initiate.
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In spite of the fact that chain referral sampling has been widely used in qualitative sociological research, especially in the study of deviant behavior, the problems and techniques involved in its use have not been adequately explained. The procedures of chain referral sampling are not self-evident or obvious. This article attempts to rectify this methodological neglect. The article provides a description and analysis of some of the problems that were encountered and resolved in the course of using the method in a relatively large exploratory study of ex-opiate addicts.
Book
For much of the twentieth century, large companies employing many workers formed the bedrock of the U.S. economy. Today, on the list of big business's priorities, sustaining the employer-worker relationship ranks far below building a devoted customer base and delivering value to investors. As David Weil's groundbreaking analysis shows, large corporations have shed their role as direct employers of the people responsible for their products, in favor of outsourcing work to small companies that compete fiercely with one another. The result has been declining wages, eroding benefits, inadequate health and safety conditions, and ever-widening income inequality.From the perspectives of CEOs and investors, fissuring--splitting off functions that were once managed internally--has been a phenomenally successful business strategy, allowing companies to become more streamlined and drive down costs. Despite giving up direct control to subcontractors, vendors, and franchises, these large companies have figured out how to maintain quality standards and protect the reputation of the brand. They produce brand-name products and services without the cost of maintaining an expensive workforce. But from the perspective of workers, this lucrative strategy has meant stagnation in wages and benefits and a lower standard of living--if they are fortunate enough to have a job at all.Weil proposes ways to modernize regulatory policies and laws so that employers can meet their obligations to workers while allowing companies to keep the beneficial aspects of this innovative business strategy.
Article
Information technology is changing social relations in workplaces, perhaps faster than empirical and theoretical work can digest. We develop the concept ‘computer control’ to illustrate one dimension of change. Key features include unobtrusive, micro-level task control and an individualized experience of the labour process. We ask how social interaction occurs in a workplace characterized by computer control. Using participant observation, we examine interaction in Big Box, a computer-controlled grocery distribution facility. While a central computer orchestrates thousands of daily tasks, workers barely talk to execute the labour process. Interactions can occur within a ‘digital arena’, developed by management. Work becomes a game – engrossing workers in its outcomes – but simultaneously allowing management greater control over labour. We argue that management can construct virtual social spaces in the computer-controlled workplace. Information technology fully individualizes a repetitive task, while also offering a platform for reconstituting shared experiences of work. Implications are discussed.
Article
The paper develops the concept of politics of production through a double critique: first, of recent literature on the organization of work for ignoring the political and ideological regimes in production; and second, of recent theories of the state for failing to root its interventions in the requirements of capitalist development. The paper distinguishes three types of production politics: despotic, hegemonic, and hegemonic despotic. The focus is on national variations of hegemonic regimes. The empirical basis of the analysis is a comparison of two workshops, one in Manchester, England, and the other in Chicago, with similar work organizations and situated in similar market contexts. State support for those not employed and state regulation of factory regimes explain the distinctive production politics not only in Britain and the United States but also in Japan and Sweden. The different national configurations of state intervention are themselves framed by the combined and uneven development of capitalism on a world scale. Finally, consideration is given to the character of the contemporary period, in which there emerges a new form of production politics--hegemonic despotism--founded on the mobility of capital.
Conference Paper
Neoliberalism, stemming from the musings of the Mont Pelerin Society after the Second World War, meant a model of liberalization, commodification, individualism, the privatization of social policy as well as production, and – least appreciated – the systematic dismantling of institutions and mechanisms of social solidarity. From the late 1970s onwards, it meant the painful construction of a global market system, in which the globalization era was the disembedded phase of the Global Transformation, analogous to a similar phase in Karl Polanyi’s Great Transformation. In both cases, the disembedded phase was dominated by financial capital, generating chronic insecurities and inequalities. But whereas Polanyi was analysing the construction of national markets, the Global Transformation is about the painful construction of a global market system. One consequence has been the emergence of a global class structure superimposed on national structures. In order to move towards a re-embedded phase, it is essential to understand the character of the class fragmentation, and to conceptualize the emerging mass class-in-the-making, the precariat. This is a controversial concept, largely because traditional Marxists dispute its class character. However, it is analytically valuable to differentiate it, since it has distinctive relations of production, relations of distribution and relations to the state. It is still a class-in-the-making rather than a class-for-itself. But it is the new dangerous class because it is a force for transformation, rejecting both labourist social democracy and neoliberalism. It has a distinctive consciousness, although it is this that holds it back from being sufficiently a class-for-itself. It is still divided, being at war with itself. However, it has moved out of its primitive rebel phase, and in the city squares around the world is setting a new progressive agenda based on its insecurities and aspirations.
Article
In this final report I offer a review of recent work in labour geography (broadly defined), a blossoming and increasingly mature subfield of economic geography. The review covers three areas: theoretical work on the nature and constitution of labour agency; research into issues of precarity, migration and intermediation in contemporary labour markets; and studies on the geographical strategies employed by the union movement. The report concludes that theorizing worker agency effectively is central to the further development of labour geography.
Article
This article opens by suggesting that the decline in the sociology of work in the UK has been overstated; research continues, but in locations such as business schools. The continued vitality of the field corresponds with material changes in an increasingly globalized capitalism, with more workers in the world, higher employment participation rates of women, transnational shifts in manufacturing, global expansion of services and temporal and spatial stretching of work with advanced information communication technologies. The article demonstrates that Labour Process Theory (LPT) has been a crucial resource in the sociology of work, especially in the UK; core propositions of LPT provide it with resources for resilience (to counter claims of rival perspectives) and innovation (to expand the scope and explanator y power of the sociology of work). The ar ticle argues that the concept of the labour power has been critical to underpinning the sustained influence of labour process analysis.
Article
This book first took shape in my mind as little more than a study of occupational shifts in the United States. I was interested in the structure of the working class, and the manner in which it had changed. That portion of the population employed in manufacturing and associated industries—the so-called industrial working class—had apparently been shrinking for some time, if not in absolute numbers at any rate in relative terms. Since the details of this process, especially its historical turning points and the shape of the new employment that was taking the place of the old, were not clear to me, I undertook to find out more about them. And since, as I soon discovered, these things had not yet been clarified in any comprehensive fashion, I decided that there was a need for a more substantial historical description and analysis of the process of occupational change than had yet been presented in print. This article can also be found at the Monthly Review website, where most recent articles are published in full. Click here to purchase a PDF version of this article at the Monthly Review website.
Article
I define emotional labour as the labour involved in dealing with other peoples’feelings, a core component of which is the regulation of emotions. The aims of the paper are firstly to suggest that the expression of feelings is a central problem of capital and paid work and secondly to highlight the contradictions of emotions at work. To begin with I argue that ‘emotion’is a subject area fitting for inclusion in academic discussion, and that the expression of emotions is regulated by a form of labour. In the section ‘Emotion at home’I suggest that emotional labour is used to lay the foundations of a social expression of emotion in the privacy of the domestic domain. However the forms emotional labour takes and the skills it involves leave women subordinated as unskilled and stigmatised as emotional. In the section ‘Emotion at work’I argue that emotional labour is also a commodity. Though it may remain invisible or poorly paid, emotional labour facilitates and regulates the expression of emotion in the public domain. Studies of home and the workplace are used to begin the process of recording the work carried out in managing emotions and drawing attention to its significance in the social reproduction of labour power and social relations of production.
Article
The crisis of 2007-9 has cast fresh light on the ascendancy of finance in recent years, a process that is often described as financialization. The concept of financialisation has emerged within Marxist political economy in an effort to relate booming finance to poorly performing production. Yet, there is no general agreement on what it means, as is shown in this article through a selective review of economic and sociological literature. The article puts forth an analysis of financialization that draws on classical Marxism while remaining mindful of the recent crisis. Financialization represents a systemic transformation of mature capitalist economies with three interrelated features. First, large corporations rely less on banks and have acquired financial capacities; second, banks have shifted their activities toward mediating in open financial markets and transacting with households; third, households have become increasingly involved in the operations of finance. The sources of capitalist profit have also changed accordingly.
Article
Immigration controls are often presented by government as a means of ensuring 'British jobs for British workers' and protecting migrants from exploitation. However; in practice they can undermine labour protections. As well as a tap regulating the flow of labour; immigration controls function as a mould, helping to form types of labour with particular relations to employers and the labour market. In particular; the construction of institutionalised uncertainty together with less formalised migratory processes, help produce 'precarious workers' over whom employers and labour users have particular mechanisms of control.
Book
This book is about the ways in which new information and communication technologies have enabled changes in the way work is organised in contemporary society. The book takes up two major themes about new technologies that may be briefly summarised as follows: a critical response to those accounts that accord to technology an independent role in determining workplace change; an emphasis on the social processes that influence the way that technology is utilised in the workplace; and a focus on the manner in which technological developments have been applied in quite different ways to different segments of the employed population.
Article
Since the 1930s, industrial sociologists have tried to answer the question, Why do workers not work harder? Michael Burawoy spent ten months as a machine operator in a Chicago factory trying to answer different but equally important questions: Why do workers work as hard as they do? Why do workers routinely consent to their own exploitation? Manufacturing Consent, the result of Burawoy's research, combines rich ethnographical description with an original Marxist theory of the capitalist labor process. Manufacturing Consent is unique among studies of this kind because Burawoy has been able to analyze his own experiences in relation to those of Donald Roy, who studied the same factory thirty years earlier. Burawoy traces the technical, political, and ideological changes in factory life to the transformations of the market relations of the plant (it is now part of a multinational corporation) and to broader movements, since World War II, in industrial relations.
Article
Call centres represent a new strategy by capital to reduce unit labour costs. While this strategy has been applied to many different types of work, it is particularly successful in cutting costs in routine interactive service encounters. Telebank, the case study research site, is one of four integrated call centres throughout the UK. Data collection includes taped semi-structured interviews with customer service representatives and managers as well as non-participant observation of recruitment, training and the labour process. This article argues that management has developed a new form of structural control. Theoretically this draws heavily on Edwards's concept of technical control, but not only is this shown to be extended and modified, it is also combined with bureaucratic control, which influences the social structure of the workplace. Contrary to Edwards such systems are not distinct; rather they are blended together in the process of institutionalizing control. Part of the rationale for this is to camouflage control, to contain conflict by making control a product of the system rather than involving direct confrontation between management and workers. Despite such attempts the struggle for transforming labour power into profitable labour remains, and the article ends by exploring confrontation between workers and managers and worker agency more generally.
Beyond misclassification: The digital transformation of work
  • M A Cherry
Postcapitalist precarious work and those in the ‘drivers’ seat: Exploring the motivations and lived experiences of Uber drivers in Canada
  • A Peticca-Harris
  • N Gama
  • Ravishankar
  • Mn
Three quarters of food delivery riders earn less than minimum wage, union says
  • S Smiley
Submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and the Worker. Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers
  • Uber
Case Study Research: Design and Methods
  • R K Yin
Submission to the Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers. Senate Select Committee on the Future of Work and Workers Submission 103
  • Deliveroo
Labour process theory and the gig economy
  • A Gandini