How Round Is Flat? Crowdwork Between Relocalisation and Time Compression.

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 09:00
Location: Hörsaal 23 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Philip SCHOERPF, University of Vienna, Austria
Joerg FLECKER, University of Vienna, Austria
Annika SCHÖNAUER, University of Vienna, Austria
The creative industries are predestined to display new trends in work organisation. In this presentation we explore how spatially dispersed digital creative work affect workers’ working hours and time organisation. Though ‘crowdwork’ or ‘crowdsourcing’ have been more common in low-skill- and highly standardised work, these labour practices increasingly spread to high-skilled labour with the creative industries on its forefront.

The emergence and progression of information technologies have vast impacts on how creative labour is organised. Better and easier access to the internet as well as faster and more reliable network structures allow creative producers to work online and connect themselves to clients from basically all over the world, for example via crowdsourcing platforms. From the outsourcer’s perspective these new developments are primarily meant to reduce overhead costs and enable easy access to an enormous pool of skills and knowledge. For the crowdworkers these online platforms presumably open possibilities for e.g. new clients, acquiring new skills or the choice to work where and when one desires. In particular the autonomies of space and time are questionably when observed closely: we found it increasingly difficult for crowdworkers to act autonomously in respect to their choice of workplace and their time management. We could not identify a growing delocalisation but rather frequently encountered work at home. Furthermore a strong subordination under the clients’ demands and expectations was prevalent when it comes to availability, response times, long working hours or night work. As a result crowdwork can be described as highly individualised and often displays uneven power relations between the crowdworkers and the clients, fostered by the crowdworking-platforms' communication means and practices. In this presentation we are going to highlight our findings relating to time organisation, risks and possibilities for the crowdworkers also address organisational and technical aspects of platforms.