Digital Myth? Visions and Open Questions in the Field of “Digital” Work
Based on a review of current visions of digital work it will be argued that the scientific and political debate is still in a phase of “digital myth” creation. In order to understand and shape the characteristics of “digital” work it seems crucial to develop a theoretical model of work and technology. This model should be able to (a) reflect the highly different work environments of “digital” work and (b) to identify technology as enabler for changes at work. Thus, the paper proposes a contextualised approach towards work and technology: The introduction of digital technologies creates socio-technical spaces that are initially influenced by technical parameters to which organizational and individual working structures adapt ex-post.
The authors conclude that it is important to deliberately design socio-technical working spaces – on a micro-level – according to normative principles for “good” employment. Furthermore – on a macro-level – a societal debate on “digital” work should start in a sense that the power of digital technologies may be transformed into the ‘classical’ ideal of work and technology: “machinery, considered alone, shortens the hours of labour, but, when in the service of capital, lengthens them; since in itself it lightens labour, but when employed by capital, heigthens the intensity of labour” (Marx, Capital, Vol I, ch. 15).