Organizing the Workerpreneurs in the Algorithmic Management Era

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:00
Oral Presentation
Rabih JAMIL, Département de Sociologie, Université de Montréal, Canada
Yanick NOISEUX, Département de Sociologie, Université de Montréal, Canada
The application-based capitalist mode of production is changing the ecosystem of work and subsequently the forms of solidarity and collective actions. The algorithmic-matching between supply and demand detaches the gig-economy workforce from both administrative and professional affiliations (Lehdonvitra, 2016). Hence, our understanding of labour should be amended to circumvent the “bogus of misclassification” and to enable an analysis of the functional transformation of workers’ role within the production process. In this regard, this research paper seeks to break with a dichotomist vision of work relations within the gig-economy (micro-entrepreneur vs employees) and aims to investigate the organizational context producing atomized workerpreneurs

Based on the Uber model of matchmaking, this research argues that the current transformations are setting the frame for a new type of labour that we labeled as workerpreneurs. Accordingly, it will first illustrate the conceptual underpinnings of this new category and shed light on the hybrid nature of the un/binding contractual relation. It exposes the pillars of the productive combination adopted by companies like Uber which embeds flexibility and market-based decision-making with the full automatization of control and management. Secondly, the paper will address the resistance of workerpreneurs by critically analyzing two forms of solidarity and collective actions pursued by Uber drivers; the traditional juridical struggle and the non-traditional application-based “unionism 2.0”.

This research builds on firsthand empirical data collected through a series of observations and interviews with drivers in urban centers in both southern and northern economies (Montreal, Toronto, Fortalaza and Buenos Aires) and on a comprehensive literature review of both the gig-economy and on the dynamics of collective actions within different communities of so-called gig-workers