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Session Overview
Location: BS.4.06B
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Fourth Floor, North Atrium Oxford Road
Date: Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019
11:00am - 12:30pmJS_RN20_RN27_01: Decolonizing social research: Practices and reflections on the democratization of social research
Session Chair: Silvia Cataldi, sapienza university of rome
Session Chair: Andrea Vargiu, Università di Sassari

Citizen Science as a Way to the Democratisation of Social Research

Egle Butkeviciene1, Bálint Balázs2

1Kaunas University of Technology, Lithuania; 2Environmental Social Science Research Group, Hungary

Despite an anti-science movement in some sections of society, there are great opportunities for public engagement for scientific research in a transition towards a more cooperative research and innovation sector. There are multiple ways of engaging public perspectives and knowledge in scientific discourse and policy-making. This article will present citizen science as a proper and passionate participatory research methodology for research and knowledge generation, offering a transformative way to the democratisation of social research. Being a relatively new but rapidly growing field, citizen science expands public involvement in science and research and supports alternative models of knowledge production (Hecker et al, 2018). For decades being below the radar for most professional scientists and policymakers, citizen science nowadays aims for multiple social goals beyond scientifically robust findings and can very well provide empowering tools for citizens to develop solutions to their communities’ problems. It also increases science literacy and overall public awareness about the science. On the other hand, there are also sceptical voices regarding citizen science data quality issues, claiming that citizen science lacks scientific and theoretic standards.

Authors of this paper are from Eastern EU countries, Lithuania and Hungary, where citizen science initiatives are unnoticed, rare or silent; hardly any projects can be identified that use the term ‘citizen science’ for self-definition. The fact that the term has limited acknowledgement represents unequal knowledge production and multiple science cultures within and beyond Europe. The paper will point out how citizen science in such a context could help us to decolonise research. The paper is based on qualitative data analysis.

Academic Neo-colonialism in Writing Practices: Geographic Markers in Three Journals from Japan, Turkey and the US

Murat Ergin, Aybike Alkan

Koc University, Turkey

A global academic division of labor haunts contemporary academic production, and affects how scholars from different regions present the context and the methodological assumptions of their research. The epistemological implications assign southern knowledge to the status of “data” for the use of northern “theory.” The institutional consequences affect the training and promotion of scholars, and the distribution of academic resources. The persistence of global power relations in academic production is partially an indicator of the achievement of the West in establishing a Eurocentric relationship with the rest of the world. This paper looks at the manifestations of the contemporary academic division of labor in scholarly writing. We examine articles published in three international academic journals, based in Japan, Turkey, and the United States (American Sociological Review, Social Science Japan Journal, and New Perspectives on Turkey), and focus on the different ways in which authors use geographic markers, words that indicate that a title, an abstract, or a sentence is written in reference to a particular location—a country, a city, or another geographic entity. Scholarship in the North relies on a writing style that reflects and reproduces its privileged position in the global academic division of labor. However, southern scholars tend to write in a style that makes heavy use of geographic markers, which reflects their underprivileged position in global academic world as “case” or “data” producers for northern theory.

“Politik als Beruf”. Thinking the Quality of Public Action

Fiorella Vinci

eCampus University, Italy

The contemporary debate regarding elites embodies, frequently and not without misunderstandings, also that regarding the competencies of the elites (Rosanvallon 2017). In western societies, once the pact between ruling classes and society broken (Magatti 2009), in the era of the digital revolution, higher education appears ineffective and functional exclusively for the reproduction of traditional elites. But can the profession of politician today disregard a higher and academic education? And as social scientists how can we contribute to this debate? Proceeding from these questions, the paper proposes to analyse, according to an institutional-generative logic, some qualities of political man identified in the well-known Weberian conference. The analytical-historic perspective is the first lesson that the Weberian study offers: the struggle and selection for power always occurs within specific frames and institutional communities and is ever more, the constant result of a process of professionalisation in which the relationship between ethics, science and politics comes to the fore (Bruhns, Duran 2009). Making, in a Faustian way, a pact with the devil characterises the profession of politician but does not exhaust his action; the exercise of the ethics of conviction is not distinctive of its action, he must give proof of an ethics of responsibility. But what is the ethics of responsibility? How and where can it be learned? At the beginning of the 21st century reflecting on the ethics of responsibility could perhaps constitute an interdisciplinary research programme in the light of which one could rethink the historical sciences of human culture.

Doing Participatory Action Research In Times Of Neoliberism

Andrea Vargiu1, Mariantonietta Cocco1, Zoraida Mendiwelso-Bendek2

1Università di Sassari, Italy; 2Lincoln University, United Kingdom

During last decades Participatory Action Research (PAR)/Community Based Research (CBR) have developed as a prominent approach to social research and learning based grounded on a dialogical and dialectic methodology and epistemologies.

The development of this approach respond to disciplinary tensions within the complexity of social sciences and to challenges and dilemmas arising from direct research discourses and practices. Academic literature related to these factors abounds, whereas wider societal issues that significantly contribute to determine the evolutions of both are much less explored. Nevertheless, one might find it hard to say the overall societal context within which they evolved hasn’t changed since the early days of PAR/CBR; or maybe there are new articulations that have enriched the PAR/CBR without challenging dominant epistemologies.

In this presentation, authors will introduce some levels of discussions of the implications societal changes have vis-à-vis theory and practice of PAR/CBR, notably by referring to present context within which – willing or not – all actors classically involved in PAR activities (researchers, citizens, practitioners, policy makers) act in arenas that are strongly marked by dominant epistemologies.

Discussion will follow based on reference to practical action research experiences about ways to work out coherent and effective practices aimed at positive social change.

2:00pm - 3:30pmJS_RN15_RN37_02: Transforming cities in a global transforming world
Session Chair: M. Victoria Gómez, University Carlos III Madrid

City, Privileged Object of Visualisation: Explaining Global Urban Change with Scientific Visual Narratives

Maciej Kowalewski

University of Szczecin, Poland

The aim of the paper is to analyze the importance of the scientific description of global urban change mediated by the data visualization (graphs, animations, infographics). The main research question is how the visual tools for presenting research results create the images of the city? If such data visualities are regarded as a type of text, it is possible to define visual discourse as a set of narratives referring to ways of thinking and talking about the urban change, mediated by images. In this term, the graphs are not just data presentations, but ready-made texts of urban studies, both describing and designing urban realm. The author sees those graphs as not only an indicator of urban processes, but also as ‘new urban narrative’, as images constellations shaping understanding of global urban change.

New visual technologies (animated data visualization, GIS, 3D interactive tools) make possible to depict the processes taking place over time - both in the perspective of one day (e.g. spatial mobility) and cumulative data showing the variability of phenomena in decades (e.g. demographic changes). Visual data in urban studies work in the same way as a tourist brochure, which documents or makes probable the urban experience, or as an architectural visualization, which activates the imagination and convinces the investor of the validity of the expenditure. Similar, scientific visualizations are not limited to the academia, but also become a part of the popular culture, urban policies, etc.

New urban practices in Russia's periphery

Vasileios Kitsos

södertörns högskola, Sweden

This study is part of a doctoral dissertation that employs a common research frame upon uncommon case studies: The global outreach of urban regeneration, and the changes it brings in institutions and physical space in secondary cities, located outside the global core but striving for increased attractiveness, competitiveness and livability is addressed. The study wishes to contribute to a better understanding of the mechanisms associated with urban regeneration in a glocalized era, through the study of its imposition or (re)emergence upon a very specific institutional, physical and geohistorical context, that of Eastern Russia. It also touches upon the topic of knowledge transfer and circulation in the contemporary Russian city. While scholarship on urban regimes in Russia is becoming increasingly diverse and looking beyond the core, this study attempts to insist in establishing and articulating a locally-bound perspective that perceives urban regeneration from within, as a product of a constellation of space-defined relations, decisions and actions. In this line, case studies are seen not as detached decisions taken elsewhere -although this might as well be a fact- but as parts in becoming, of a palimpsest that is the urban condition.

A convergent parallel design method has been applied. Empirical material that will be presented consists of information derived from (1) official documentation and media reports (2) interviews and (3) observations of physical urban spaces attributes during fieldwork. One of the case studies will be presented in detail.

Skopje: The "Kitsch" And "Bastard" Capital Of The Statues.

Silvia Pezzoli, Sheyla Moroni

University of Florence, Italy

FYROM (that named its self Macedonia, now Northern Macedonia) became independent in 1991 and Skopje became its capital. Rebuilt in 1963 (after a devastating earthquake) Skopje reproduces the "ethnic composition" of the State and it’s inhabited by a "Macedonian" majority, (about 50 ¼) a conspicuous Albanian minority and groups of Roma, Serbs, Turks, Bosnians and Bulgarians.

In 2010 the Prime Minister Nicola Gruevski (2006-2016) launched a project: Skopje 2014, that "marks the beginning and the political end" of the narrative of Macedonia that the strongly nationalist government proposes (Jovanovski, 2017). The strong urban and architectural imprint that the Gruevski government tried to give the city, sees the constant presence of harsh and widespread protests (mainly stemming from the Faculty of Architecture) due both to the its wasteful trajectory (about 450 million euros) and the strong request of freedom of expression (2008, 2009 and 2016, above all).

The choices of nationalists engaged in "civil wars" groups (Tetovo, 2001 and Kumanovo, 2015) fight for the redefinition of the city center, where new “buildings of the power” and hundreds of statues intend to reconnect with the national-patriotic identity discourse and the imaginary dating to the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century.

The study of the events that intersect the city of Skopje has been supported by a qualitative interdisciplinary research divided into three phases: analysis of archival photographic material, direct observation and collection of photographs taken in two different moments (November 2016 and July 2018), selection of some statues to investigate their identity and political function and their (possible) re-memorization, re semanticization and contemporary reallocation (Marques-Pimenta de Faria, 2013).

4:00pm - 5:30pmJS_RN21_RN31_03: The Challenge of Measuring Antisemitism
Session Chair: Wolfgang Aschauer, University of Salzburg
Session Chair: Karin Stoegner, University of Vienna

Challenges of Measuring and Assessing Antisemitism: Phenomena, Perspectives and Methodological Considerations

Kim Robin Stoller

International Institute for Education and Research on Antisemitism (IIBSA) / Free University Berlin, Germany

Quantitative methodology, aiming to measure antisemitism in Europe or in specific European countries, is confronted with a challenge. Beside the lack of many comparative studies, quantitative attempts must define how they want to assess the current situation. Over the last years several quantitative studies and monitoring reports were published, focusing on different perspectives and phenomena. This paper discusses some of the different existing and possible attempts and methodological challenges, focusing on the following aspects:

1. Surveys on antisemitism: Perception of Jews; direct/ indirect communication; potentiality of action in a changed context/ latency; level of obsession; dehumanization/ demonization; justification/ toleration/ advocacy of antisemitic acts.

2. Jewish people's experiences with hate crime, discrimination and antisemitism.

3. Antisemitic incidents, hate crimes and perpetrators: Civil Society reports on antisemitic incidents and police statistics on antisemitic hate crime.

4. Mobilization of antisemitism: demonstrations, lectures etc.

5. Antisemitic Discourse: Antisemitism in Traditional Media and Social Media

The Challenge of Studying Antisemitism and how Survey Experiments Can Help us to Adress it

Heiko Beyer1, Ulf Liebe2

1Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, Germany; 2University of Warwick

Empirical research on antisemitism grapples with the issue of social desirability bias. In many studies using standardized surveys, the measurements are distorted because respondents lie about their attitudes and behavioral intentions. The presentation promotes a new approach to study antisemitism using survey experiments. This methodological toolbox allows for a more subtle measurement of antisemitism and offers various ways to include variables which account for the normative context of antisemitic speech and other types of action. To illustrate the benefits of the approach we present example studies which were conducted in Germany during the last ten years.

New Ways of Scrutinising Overt and Subtle Antisemitism in Hungary

Ildiko Barna, Arpad Knap

Eotvos Lorand University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Hungary

The level of antisemitism in Hungary has always been among the highest in Europe. Representative surveys show that approximately 33 to 40 per cent of the Hungarian population is antisemitic. Although there has been some fluctuation, the level of antisemitism has remained quite stable. Moreover, we found, based on representative surveys among Hungarian Jews, that although the proportion of those having experienced or witnessed antisemitic acts one year prior to the survey decreased massively from 79 to 58 per cent between 1999 and 2017, the perception of antisemitism severely deteriorated. While in 1999, 37 per cent of Jews thought that antisemitism was strong or very strong in Hungary, in 2017 65 per cent said the same. This high discrepancy between experience and perception is due to several factors, being one of them the spread of online hatred. This fact makes the analysis of online sources necessary.

Due to the vast amount of unstructured online textual data, their examination demands new tools, one of them being Natural Language Processing (NLP). NLP is an interdisciplinary field of research in the intersection of computer science, artificial intelligence, as well as linguistics. In our research, we apply NLP on a massive corpus of recent Hungarian news articles, social media content, and online forum comments. NLP makes possible not only the examination of the structure, the main topics, and actors of overt antisemitism but the identification of underlying subjects and specificities of latent antisemitism. In our paper, we present the first results of our research.

Assessing Antisemitism On Twitter

Daniel Armin Miehling1, Gunther Jikeli2,3,4

1OTH-Regensburg; 2Indiana University, United States of America; 3Potsdam University, Germany; 4CNRS, France

Recent reports on online antisemitism highlight the rise of antisemitism on social media platforms. While this is plausible, several methodological questions arise when assessing such claims. How is the rise of antisemitism measured? How are they quantified in rapidly growing and diversifying platforms? Are the numbers of antisemitic messages rising proportionally to other content or is the share of antisemitic content increasing? Are antisemitic messages mostly disseminated on infamous websites and fora such as The Daily Stormer, 4Chan/pol or 8Chan/pol, Gab, and closed social media groups, or is this a wider phenomenon? However, at the root of methodological questions is the challenge of identifying a consistent way to identify diverse manifestations of antisemitism.

Answering any substantive questions requires reliable methods for identifying antisemitic content in large datasets. Previous studies have used antisemitic keywords and combination of keywords, such as “kike” or “Jews” and “kill” or tracked antisemitic memes. (Finkelstein et al. 2018; Gitari et al. 2015) Others rely on manual classification, but fail to share their classification scheme and do not use representative samples.

This paper presents the methods of a research project that a) aims to provide meaningful figures of the percentage of antisemitic tweets when keywords, such as “Jew*” or “Israel*” are used and b) develops a ground truth dataset of antisemitic/non-antisemitic tweets that can be used in AI programs to find antisemitic tweets in large databases. We also present our approach of using a definition of antisemitism that is transparent and verifiable.

6:00pm - 7:30pmJS_RN09_RN17_04: Platform Work: Needs, Activation and Representativeness in the Era of Digital Labour
Session Chair: Arianna Tassinari, University of Warwick
Session Chair: Davide Arcidiacono, University of Catania

Platform Work and Platform Workers in Italy: an Exploratory Study

Davide Arcidiacono2, Ivana Pais1

1Università Cattolica, Italy; 2Università di Catania

The platform economy fully represents new pathways of the global economy and the complexity of work in the post-industrial age. This depends on its tendency to generate non-standard and flexible activities that stand outside traditional forms of identification, protection and contractual regulations. Forms of work emerging from platforms can vary: first, there are the most complex, qualified and specialized, provided by professionals. They take advantage of this new intermediation between supply and demand to intercept highly challenging opportunities. Second, we find low-skilled microtasks that follow processes of global outsourcing and representing the last frontier of an informal neo-Taylorism. Third, we can also find forms of traditional work with different levels of qualification, which are offered first hand, yet taking advantage of the digital intermediation to increase the number of clients. Lastly, there are work forms requiring low qualification as to circumvent possible entry barriers of the market, or to overcome the traditionally informal nature of supply-demand matchmaking. Within such a varied population of workers, it is difficult to trace and clearly classify the workers’ needs and motivations, with the aim to form specific programs on both the regulatory and social protection level. Our analysis is based on a sequence of research activities:

• Mapping work platforms that are currently operating in Italy as an analysis of the reference scenario;

• A netnographic analysis of the "communities" of the subjects within the platforms, as well as in other social networking spaces, such as Facebook groups;

• A qualitative analysis (focus group and in-depth interviews) to platform managers/founders and different type of workers following Codagnone and De Groen’s categorization in four groups.

This Must Be The Place. Food Delivery Business Model, Riders’ Mobilization, And The City.

Filippo Andrei, Tommaso Frangioni

University of Turin, Italy

The focus of this research is the mobilization of riders in the food delivery sector in the city of Torino. Since winter 2016, a group of gig-workers started a protest to gain better work conditions. Through the participant observation of the mobilization, interviews with riders (considering workers of Foodora, Deliveroo and Glovo), and content analysis of the Facebook page of the collective, the research aims to investigate the relationship between emerging representations of urban space and technological infrastructure.

The perspective we adopt is informed by social shaping theory. This theoretical framework stresses the dialectical process between technology and society and between technology and social actors. Thus, it refuses rigidly deterministic concepts and taking into consideration the power differential of social actors in the governance of technological instruments (Flichy 1996). The peculiar characteristics of the technology limit the range of actions available to social actors, but simultaneously, they can manipulate technological devices and repurpose them. This leads to unpredicted uses, that sometimes might be conflicting with the original goals imagined by the designer or the organization that adopted them (Sartori 2012). This happens also in regards to urban infrastructure, a framework which is at the same structuring and structured by the actions of these two collective actors.

The theoretical aim of the paper is twofold: to reflect upon mobilizations in the gig economy, and their relationship with “old” labour movements and “new” social movements approach, and to discuss the multi-scalarity of platform economy as a simultaneously global and local phenomenon.

Not only riders

Andrea Bellini1, Silvia Lucciarini2

1Dipartimento disse sapienza roma, Italy; 2University of Florence

Platform work is not an exclusive occupation, it co-exists with other types of self-employment, usually off-line, as a secondary activity to integrate income and a way to define a professional identity. That is the case of many creative workers, particularly vulnerable ones, who are exposed to discontinuous jobs and wages, to which they often respond by holding multiple jobs, sometimes even outside the creative field.

Digitalisation can foster the workers’ well-being, depending on the capacity to modify – even radically – the employment regulation, the role of social and economic institutions – both national and supra-national – and the actors’ power relations. The current regulation is related to “the work as it was” more than “the work as it is”. Western capitalism has to redefine protections for an increasing number of non-standard workers.

As many scholars have already shown, the welfare capitalism’ regulation system is characterised by two different approaches to the non-standard workers (NSWs): a positive one, that think about NSW as “quasi-employees”, and a more disruptive other, considering the NSWs as “quasi-self-employed”.

Several times, in literature, it has been highlighted how the fragmentation of work and the diversification of the conditions of workers could play as a barrier to collective action, and to the capacity of industrial relations actors to represent their interests.

However, as many studies have shown, few innovative trajectories are being shaped both the traditional, longstanding union and the new forms of representation, as bottom-up movements, “quasi-unions” and so on.

The paper aims to explore new forms of representation in Italy and the Netherlands, focusing on the actions developed by “Smart” cooperative for graphic and web designers, working on and offline.

Resistance Against the Recommodification of Labour on Food-delivery Platforms in Germany: Structural Drivers and Individual Motivations

Denis Neumann1, Vera Trappmann2, Alexandra Seehaus1

1Freie Universität Berlin, Germany; 2Leeds University Business School, United Kingdom

The two main on-demand Food-delivery platforms in Germany Foodora and Deliveroo are publicly accused of practices of hyper-exploitation. Employment relationships are not or rather (Degner/Koch 2018) weakly regulated and the efficiency-driven algorithm lacks transparency concerning working hours, the payment-system and shift assignment (Schreyer/Schrape 2018).

Our contribution sheds light on the dynamics behind the workers organization in Germany. This is of particular interest due to the fact that the German protest is mainly supported by an independent syndicalist union, crossing national frontiers. Traditional unions are involved only in a few cities and the willingness to cooperate between both entities is low. Thus, our research so far shows that a rather unconventional and more radicalized approach to organization and action against the employer seems to be more attractive for the bicycle riders in German cities.

The paper examines the drivers that led to protest and solidarity among the bike couriers. We analyse three potential drivers against the background of the specific institutional and cultural environment in Germany: 1. the nature of precarious work, 2. the specifics of the economic sector, 3. The particularity of the young, partly international workforce. Beyond these contextual factors, the paper investigates the biographical experiences that decide on whether a biker participates in protest or remains acquiescent and how unions are perceived subjectively.

Our findings are based on expert interviews with young union members and activists, as well as biographical interviews with riders that decided to take action against the grievances surrounding them at their workplace.

Date: Thursday, 22/Aug/2019
11:00am - 12:30pmJS_RN09_RN17_05: The Gig Economy: Bright and Dark Sides of the Future Labour Market I
Session Chair: Bernd Brandl, Durham University
Session Chair: Alberto Veira-Ramos, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid

Can The Gig Economy Be Compatible With Standard Employment? A Case Study Of Food Delivery Platform In Belgium

Agnieszka Piasna, Jan Drahokoupil

European Trade Union Institute, Belgium

The digital platform economy has a great potential for changing the way work is organized in the society and for disrupting existing employment models. In this new reality, employees are replaced by ‘independent contractors’, and jobs become ‘gigs’. The depart from the standard employment relationship is accompanied by a powerful narrative of flexibility, independence and entrepreneurship, where traditional definitions of dependent employment should no longer apply.

In this paper, we ask whether work in the gig economy is indeed incompatible with standard employment. We explore what are the needs from work of platform workers and to what extent they can be fulfilled within standard employment?

The analysis is based on a case study of one of the largest food delivery platforms, Deliveroo, in Belgium. The case is particularly interesting because the platform hired workers through an intermediary, which gave standard employment status and respective protection to workers. The analysis furthers the understanding of the nature of the flexibility entailed in platform work and the preferences of workers regarding work and employment conditions. We also identify the role of local regulations and institutions.

The case shows that platform work can be carried out within standard employment and it can thrive under standard employment regulations, contrary to the view and practices promoted by the platforms. Standard employment, as opposed to ‘independent contracting’, can be compatible with the business model of the platform economy and, more importantly, also with the flexibility that the workers value.

Between the Old and the New – the Gig Economy and Its Characteristics

Bartosz Mika

University of Gdańsk, Poland

To fully understand the impact of the 'gig economy' on the labour market we have to identify in detail the features of the phenomenon itself. In the proposed speech, we will present the theoretical justification for treating the gig economy as a modern 'cottage industry'. As pointed out by Srnicek or Soderberg the phenomena of platform capitalism have a lot in common with the quite old-fashion "putting-out system" (for example the capitalist is a supplier of the raw material and the employees own the means of work). Furthermore, exactly as the cottage industry, it has its differences and limits. We will indicate the most important of them, distinguishing socio-economic features of crowd-work (e.g. MTurk), work-on-demand via apps (Uber) and renting of owned resources (Airbnb). We will also try to highlight the possible scenarios of future dynamics. If platform capitalism reminds "the putting-out system", the history of the latter can be a lesson for the future of the labour market.

Recruitment Devices in the Gig Economy: How a Labour Supply Takes Shape in the Market for Food Deliveries

Luca Perrig

University of Geneva, Switzerland

The great majority of digital platforms nowadays rely on a freelance workforce. This implies that workers are free to decline any task that is sent to them. A major problem for platforms is thus to ensure a sufficient supply of labor at any time of the day. That is not an easy task and platforms put a lot of effort to mediate labor supply and demand. In this paper, I will argue that platforms intervene on multiple occasions in the process of recruiting workers until completion of the transaction and thus contribute to shaping the market that they create. I will do so drawing from an ethnography of online food deliveries in Western-Switzerland.

The goal of a delivery platform is to conclude as many transactions as possible. To do so, workers should go through a series of stages until completing the task that is sent to them. They should download the app, log-in, be at the right place, at the right time, and accept the orders they receive. At each stage of this process, workers are free to log out, ending the transaction. In order to frame the workers' activity, the platform has to rely on devices and manage its workforce at distance. The user interface, the matching algorithm, the pricing mechanism, and the user ratings come crucial in this endeavor. I will show that both the design and use of these tools are essential to understand the functioning of the market.

Thriving Or Just Surviving: Divergent Inequalities In London’s Gig Economy

George Maier

London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), United Kingdom

Based on interviews with London’s AirBnB Hosts, Uber drivers and Amazon Flex workers, this study highlights the divergent nature of inequalities as income sources become increasingly casualised through digital platforms. While studies have independently shown AirBnB hosts to gain increased income compared to letting their properties in long term markets, others have shown Uber and Amazon Flex workers to find themselves increasingly in positions of financial disadvantage. This paper interrogates these divergent patterns by looking at the changing relationship between capital and labour, alongside the increase of finance-based capitalism. In this study Uber and Amazon Flex workers were found to engage in long periods of unpaid and unrecognised labour as a necessity for using the platform productively – this includes prolonged waiting periods for jobs to become available during which they are encouraged to continuously refresh the app and remain diligent and ready to respond. They are also encouraged into debt obligations (Uber now serving as a credit broker to its drivers), undermining the implied flexibility of such work. Meanwhile, AirBnB hosts in the study made ongoing attempts to distinguish themselves utilising their cultural and economic capital, to stand out and be seen as valuable on the platform. Those with the “right” type of capital needed to be most successful and face the fewest risks on the platform tended to be wealthy, white and male. Hosts who were female, had limited economic or cultural capital reported high levels of risk and discomfort while hosting. This study therefore aims to show how capital and labour relations are being reworked in the gig economy.

2:00pm - 3:30pmJS_RN09_RN17_06: The Gig Economy: Bright and Dark Sides of the Future Labour Market II
Session Chair: Aarron Jason Jake Toal, Durham University

Ideologies Within New Employment Forms: Precariously Employed Youth From The UK And Greece

Gregoris Ioannou

University of Glasgow

There is a substantial literature on labour market flexibility, precarious work and non-standard employment and a burgeoning one on “work on demand”, the gig economy, crowd work and coordination by platforms. This paper focuses on the ideological dimension and the discourses that accompany the new forms of employment from multiple perspectives and especially the views and understandings, ideas and beliefs of the workers engaged in it. The research, situated at the intersection between working conditions and subjective experience aims to identify the extent to which a process of internalization of market values and neo-liberal worldviews is at work and the extent to which these values and worldviews are modified and adapted in the context of their appropriation.

It will be empirically based on content and discourse analysis of life story semi structured interviews conducted with selected persons aged 20-35 from the UK and Greece in the hospitality and care industries, who have been fully socialized in the digital era and have only experienced precariousness in their work life trajectory. The interviews will focus on the perceptions of the workers about their work, their rights within it, expectations from it and beyond it and its place in their everyday life. The socio-political orientations of the agents will also be examined not in the narrow sense of party political affiliation but in the broader sense of ideas about values, perspectives and stances on socio-economic and public issues.

Operating in Capitalist and Moral Economies: Freelancers’ Sympathy, Strategic Alliance and Resistance to Prejudice

Yiluyi Zeng

University of Warwick, United Kingdom

How do freelancers deal with loosely established employment practice? Reflecting on semi-structured interviews with 60 independent professionals from Taiwan and England, this study looks at whether the traditional frameworks of organizational exploitation and self-exploitation are appropriate to understanding unfair employment practices encountered by freelancers. Additionally, I examine the conflicts between freelancers and their clients and how they influence professional identity and payment negotiation. Preliminary analyses result in three findings:

First, inexperienced freelancers are motivated by financial and human capital accumulation, thus inevitably have to undergo a period of self-exploitation before reaching a satisfactory stage of fair negotiation. However, both inexperienced and experienced operate in capitalist and moral economies, such that they consider each clients’ project (e.g. adding value to society) and financial condition to determine appropriate price.

Second, to minimise replaceability and stabilise sources of work, highly skilled freelancers diversify skills and form alliances with other freelancers. Freelancers divide labour in cooperative partnerships, forming complementary alliances to carve out a niche in their profession while escaping the exploitation typically associated with division of labour.

Third, the freelance experience is impacted by social and cultural factors. Some clients don’t necessarily understand or appreciate the investment and skills involved in freelancers’ work. Clients’ skewed judgements of freelance work creates asymmetrical valuations of the work, and such evaluational asymmetry is manifested in different perceptions of the client vs the freelancer regarding the respectability of the profession, which also results in gaps in expected payment.

4:00pm - 5:30pmJS_RN09_RN17_07: The Gig Economy: Bright and Dark Sides of the Future Labour Market III
Session Chair: Alberto Veira-Ramos, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid
Session Chair: Bernd Brandl, Durham University

Peer Surveillance In Aesthetic Labour

Laura Vonk

University of Amsterdam, Netherlands, The

Research has shown the importance of employees’ aesthetics in interactive service work, particularly by stressing the role of employers in commodifying workers’ capacities and attributes (e.g. Warhurst et al., 2000). Based on 25 “wardrobe interviews” (Woodward, 2007), this paper examines the role of peer surveillance in aesthetic labour. Interactive service employees, all working in precarious (and often multiple) jobs, were interviewed in front of their wardrobes, using items of clothing to elicit narratives and reflections on practices of dressing and grooming for work. Due to the flexibility of their employment, these workers cannot rely on routing or set norms in their daily presentation of self. Analyses show that corrections by peers are highly salient in respondents’ experiences of learning and adapting to aesthetic standards in the workplace. This article therefore suggests the importance of peer group mechanisms in studying lookism (Warhurst et al., 2009) in contemporary – and arguably future - labour markets.

Warhurst, C., Nickson, D., Witz, A., Cullen, A.M. (2000). Aesthetic labour in interactive service work: some case study evidence from the ‘new’ Glasgow. Service Industries Journal, 20(3),1-18.

Warhurst, C., Van den Broek, D., Hall, R., & Nickson, D. (2009). Lookism: The new frontier of employment discrimination?. Journal of Industrial Relations, 51(1), 131-136.

Woodward, S. (2007). Why women wear what they wear. Oxford: Berg.

Superconductr: Artistic Interventions in Digital Platform Labour

Matthias Kispert

University of Westminster, United Kingdom

superconductr is an artistic research project whose investigations focus on structural conditions and contradictions in digital platform labour. superconductr’s work aims to make these visible through artistic methods including delegated performance and interventions that utilise the functionalities of existing digital labour platforms, through participation in activism for precarious workers’ rights, and through theoretical investigations. The name superconductr refers to Michel Foucault’s definition of power as the conduct of conduct. Conduction is here seen as the transmission, control and mining of data streams in networks that facilitate the mobilisation, capture and extraction of human labour power.

This paper will present a number of superconductr’s projects, including 'Workers leaving the cloud factory,' which through videos sourced on Amazon Mechanical Turk and Microworkers restages the Lumière brothers’ 1895 film 'Workers leaving the factory,' to explore the dissolving of both spatial and temporal boundaries between work and non-work. 'Work hard dream big' and 'Doing and nothingness' enact and document Bartleby-esque refusals of participation in normative paradigms of sanguine entrepreneurial self-exploitation on Fiverr. 'Capitalism doesn’t love me' and 'Workers laughing alone for money' deal with anxieties brought about by precarious working conditions, and the auto-affective labour necessary to function in a world of compulsory and competitive self-optimisation. superconductr is a project by artist Matthias Kispert.

Cultural Ideals of Gigwork in Popular Management Literature

Juhana Venäläinen

University of Eastern Finland, Finland

The presentation analyzes the cultural ideals of the gig economy and gigwork as they are represented and circulated in popular management literature. The research material consists of 13 “pop-management” guidebooks, published in 2016–2018, around the topic of gig economy. The analysis of the books was based on an iterative coding process that incorporated both qualitative and quantitative approaches, seeking answers to the following questions: 1) How is the gig economy defined in the literature? 2) What are the recurring concepts that are harnessed in portraying the transforming landscape of work? and 3) What are the motivations, opportunities, and requirements related to the gig economy from the perspective of a prospective gigworker? The presentation demonstrates that in the pop-management literature, the gig economy is represented as a field of drastic change, often highlighting its sudden and abrupt character while at other times positioning it in a longer continuum in the transformations of work and the economy. The traits expected from an “ideal gigger” were identified as entrepreneurialism, prudence, self-development, malleability, and sociability, whereas the motivations of participation and the opportunities that the gig economy offers were categorized through the notions of versatility, meaningfulness, and self-determination. In addition to providing empirical analyses to discuss the discursive construction of the phenomenon of the gig economy, the paper discusses critically the role of the pop-management books as tools of self-education that contribute to building a hyper-individualized entrepreneurial self.

Embodied Precariat And Digital Control In The ‘Gig Economy’. The Mobile Labour Of Food Delivery Bicycle Couriers

Cosmin Popan

Manchester Metropolitan University, United Kingdom

The promises of flexible and autonomous work promoted through mobile apps are the latest trend within a ‘gig economy’ relying on a workforce of independent contractors whose conditions of employment, representation and social protection are often exploitative. Driven by the ‘lean platform economy’, developed after the financial crisis of 2007–2008, the ‘gig work’ received several criticisms in recent years. They range from its contribution to the dissolution of jobs into atomised tasks that undermine the role of jobs as anchors of the social structure (Pesole et al. 2018), the algorithmic management of work which enhances digital control (Rosenblat 2018; Rosenblat and Stark 2016) and the challenges they pose to workplace organisation and unionisation (Woodcock 2017). This presentation proposes the investigation of mobile work undertaken by cycle couriers using delivery apps such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats to account for how the precarious nature of these jobs and their digital surveillance are embodied, negotiated and contested. The paper draws on an ongoing ethnographic research, which involves participant observation as a Deliveroo rider in East London and interviews conducted with fellow workers. It considers the following questions: What is the impact that big data analytics, communications capture and mobile device design have on worker surveillance on and off the job? How is the increased flexibility advocated by platform mobile work influencing the precarious nature of contemporary jobs? How is the algorithmic management of platform mobile work affecting workplace solidarity and organisation? In what ways is the data collected by Uber and Deliveroo informing transport planning practices? What is the role of lean platforms such as Deliveroo and Uber Eats in facilitating transition towards low carbon mobility futures?


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