Working Anytime, Anywhere: Digitalization and the Work/Family Challenge in the Crowdworking Sector

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Dominik KLAUS, University of Vienna, Austria
Johanna HOFBAUER, Department of Sociology, Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
This paper discusses the impact of digitalization on the relationship of employment and family in the frame of an emerging platform economy. Digitalization has caused a rise of new forms of business and service provision. By diffusing gig work and cloud work, internet platforms offer access to a more flexible workforce and increase job opportunities for those willing to or in need of “working anywhere, anytime”. While existing literature accounts for new opportunities, e.g. increasing autonomy to self-organize working life or better reconcile employment with other needs (family), it also points to a number of pitfalls. Critics point to the dangers of the lack of regulation in the sector, reproducing gender gaps and causing intergenerational inequality. Literature has also pointed to the complex problematic of precarious employment, to the blurring boundaries between work and non-work, to the rising disproportion between paid and unpaid labor, to the rising disproportion between paid and unpaid labor, and to new challenges for employment and family relationships.

We argue that internet platforms are key agents in shaping opportunities and pitfalls of digital work. They determine the conditions of performance and delivery, the modes of and access to reputation, reshaping the parameters of work identity and social relations. Accounting for varieties of modes of organization, we will provide research on various platform architectures. Case study material will illustrate differences in the organization of work and resulting challenges for managing the ‘work-family challenge’.

Overall, we dispute technological determinism, arguing that digitalization is neither a one-way road nor imposed upon us by external forces of market society. A better understanding of the mechanisms that platforms use in order to manage labor and exert power upon digital workers is a necessary step towards developing regulations that can reduce inequalities and strengthen the social sustainability of platform economy.