Just 4 weeks left now for Cologne abstract submissions...
Reminder Call for papers for the Global Conference on Economic Geography 2018,
July 24 - 28, 2018, University of Cologne:
Session: Digital Labour Geographies, 'Sharing' Economy Work Futures
Please submit your abstract online through the conference website until March
15, 2018: https://www.gceg2018.com/call-for-sessions-and-papers.html
This session engages with the series of dramatic, digital transformations of
work, employment and labour relations that have accompanied the extraordinary
growth of on-demand labour in the so-called 'sharing' economy (other monikers
include the collaborative / gig / on-demand / and peer-to-peer economy).
Whatever the label used, many commentators are excited about the
digitally-mediated possibilities for enabling workers from a wide range of
backgrounds to access new forms of 'flexible' work and income opportunities in
multiple sectors (notably in professional services, household services, and
personal transport). Crucially however, the quality of those on-demand work
opportunities is also prompting growing criticism around attendant working
conditions, wage levels, and distributions of income and wealth (see Schor
2017). With reference to a range of online work platforms (Uber, TaskRabbit,
Upwork, Amazon M-Turk, Helpling), critical work to date has explored: the 'dark
side' of 'sharing' economy labour relations for workers who have limited legal
protection as 'independent contractors' (the cybertariat) on for-profit
platform apps; how digital platforms and clickwork are potentially crowding out
old jobs rather than creating new ones; and how digital on-demand work is
reinforcing stubborn labour market inequalities rooted in gender and race.
This session is concerned to bring the nascent research agenda around digital
work in the 'sharing economy' into productive conversation with the labour
geographies research agenda. It aims to prompt new conversations around how
workers are capable of actively making and remaking the geographies of the
'sharing economy' and 'platform capitalism' and effecting positive changes in
their work and employment conditions - rather than simply watching passively
from the sidelines and being affected by the dynamics of economic change writ
large by platform developer companies and their shareholders. Likewise, to
explore how place matters in shaping patterns of 'constrained worker agency'
(Coe and Lier 2010), focused on digitally-mediated labour markets as the
'spatial settings and contexts... that specific employment practices, work
cultures, and labour relations become established' (Martin 2000: 456; see also
Peck 1996 2003). In so doing, the session responds to growing international
calls for economic geographers to develop more critical analyses of how and
where economies function, for whom, and to what ends (Christophers et al.
2016). Specific topics might include, but are by no means limited to:
* Analytical contradictions between celebratory media and
policy commentaries of digital labour market 'flexibility' with the negative
realities of digital work (focus on e.g. corporate globalisation, increasing
precariousness of incomes, wage inequality, the institutionalisation of labour
market risk, and shifting welfare policy priorities).
* Comparisons between everyday work-lives in the sharing
economy with previous/simultaneous work-lives in 'mainstream' paid employment
* On-demand career building and gig economy advancement -
geographical possibilities for online labour market progression?
* Variations in worker experiences between different online
work platforms, and between workers who use the sharing economy to generate all
versus some of their annual income?
* Feminist geographies of digital work; and how gendered and
racialized identities and varied responsibilities of care differently shape
workers' abilities to participate and succeed as digital microentrepreneurs in
the sharing economy.
* Geographical possibilities for organising on-demand platform
workers in the face of digital 'subcontracted capitalism' (Wills 2009).
* Alternative platform work models (cooperative platforms) that
seek to 'take back the sharing economy' a la Scholz and Gibson-Graham.
* Mutual gains / interventionist possibilities to improve the
work-lives of on-demand workers in a manner that simultaneously improves
service delivery for customers and increases revenues for digital platforms (in
short, are these necessarily competing alternatives?)
* The methodological challenges and useful strategies for doing
research on digital labour geographies in practice and using online work
platforms as a robust source of survey data.
Convenors: Al James, School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Newcastle
University UK, al.ja...@ncl.ac.uk<mailto:al.ja...@ncl.ac.uk>; Hannelore Roos,
Faculty of Business Economics, Universiteit Hasselt, Belgium,
Dr Al James
British Academy Mid-Career Research Fellow (2017-18), Reader in Economic
School of Geography, Politics and Sociology, Daysh Building, Newcastle
University, NE1 7RU
Tw: @Re_AlJames | Ph: +44(0)191 208 6346 |
New book: Work-Life Advantage: Sustaining Regional Learning and Innovation