Conference Agenda

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

Session Overview
PaperSession-26: Labour
Friday, 04/Oct/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Earvin Charles Borja Cabalquinto
Location: P512
(cap. 96)

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2:00pm - 2:20pm

Manufacturing Trust in Online Labour Platforms: Examining How Trust is Developed Between Buyers and Sellers of Digital Labour.

Monique de Jong McKenzie

University of Sydney, Australia

Trust has been understood by researchers as foundational for the success of online economic activity (Ke et al, 2016; Gefen, 2000). The centrality of trust for online economic transactions is attributed to the disembodied nature of this transaction, in other words, the fact that the users cannot physically interact with each other (Gefen, 2000; Reichheld & Schefter, 2000). Thus, in the online, immaterial market environment, traditional methods of assurance can no longer be employed, demanding new approaches to establishing trust. This paper will investigate the implementation of trust building approaches on online labour platforms, specifically through reputation systems, payment escrows and surveillance features such as randomised screenshots and mouse movement tracking. I will examine the hypothesis that online labour platforms build these digital infrastructures to control the formation and maintenance of the relationship between buyers and sellers of labour. However, the paper will argue that these infrastructural features are more likely to contribute to the exploitation of sellers of labour and are biased in favour of buyers of labour.

2:20pm - 2:40pm

Your order, their labor: An exploration of algorithms and laboring on food delivery platforms in China

Ping SUN

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China, People's Republic of China

This study examines the use of “algorithms in everyday labor” to explore the labor conditions of three Chinese food delivery platforms: Baidu Deliveries, Eleme, and Meituan. In particular, it examines how delivery workers make sense of these algorithms through the parameters of temporality, affect, and gamification. The ethnographic fieldwork was conducted from March 2017 to August 2018. It was conducted in Beijing, which has the largest number of delivery workers in China. Forty-five in-depth, semi-structured interviews were conducted with food delivery workers from the three platforms.

The study also demonstrates that in working for food delivery platforms, couriers are not simply passive entities that are subjected to a digital “panopticon.” Instead, they create their own “organic algorithms” to manage and, in some cases, even subvert the system. The results of the approach used in this study demonstrate that digital labor has become both more accessible and more precarious in contemporary China. Based on these results, the notion of “algorithmic making and remaking” is suggested as a topic in future research on technology and digital labor.

2:40pm - 3:00pm

More than race against the algorithms: Worker’s temporality in the platform economy

Yujie CHEN, Ping SUN

Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China, People's Republic of

This article examines how on-demand service workers on digital platforms make and live their time, in the context of China’s online food-delivery industry. The article fills an important research gap by addressing the under-explored yet essential temporal dimensions in the expanding “just-in-time” labor force. Using ethnographic and interview data, the authors elucidate multiple facets of delivery workers’ time, as expressed in the abstract and exacting delivery time imposed by the platform, temporal staccatos in their encounters with biased urban spaces and infrastructures while working on the wheels, and the classed temporal orders normalized by capitalism and the nation state in the history. The article demonstrates riders’ tactics to make time and construct meanings of time during the work process and beyond, through our conceptualization of temporal arbitrage and temporal trade-off. The article contributes to the field that studies worker’s experience in the digital era by making valuable connections between time, space, the digitally mediated work process, and the contextual social and economic orders.

3:00pm - 3:20pm

Evangelisms, Entanglements and Superfans: Young People’s Creative Labour in the Visibility Economy

Natalie Coulter4

York University, Canada

“Successful IPs have a pint-sized army of marketers touting their content and products from coast to coast. We call them superfans.” (Sarah Chumsky, VP Insight Kids, 2017).

Young people’s creative digital labour is becoming entangled with the promotional activities of children’s media and entertainment industry, as children’s media and entertainment companies are grooming children to be product evangelizers and “pint-sized marketers” for intellectual properties.

There is little research that addresses the marketing and merchandising of intellectual properties as a whole, in the visibility economy of digital capitalism. This paper begins to address this oversight, by exploring two issues.

(a) how children’s media and entertainment companies harness young people’s creative labour to promote intellectual properties

(b) the implications of this on how we define young people’s labour within digital capitalism.

Building upon the work in critical media studies on visibility labour (Abidin 2016, Hearn 2010, Kahmis et. al. 2017), and children's studies (Zeilzer 1991, Cook 2018) my paper will ask what is “the child” in the 21st century when the child is framed as a “pint sized marketer”, “evangelizer” and "superfan" by the digital marketplace, whose creative labour is entangled in the promotional ecologies of digital capitalism to disseminate, aggregate, and promote IPs.

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