Wednesday, 14 August 2024

The Fight Against Platform Capitalism: An Inquiry into the Global Struggles of the Gig Economy

Presentation by Jamie Woodcock - Online Event

So far, platform work has been an important laboratory for capital. Management techniques, like the use of algorithms, are being tested with a view to exporting across the global economy and it is argued that automation is undermining workers’ agency. Although the contractual trick of self-employment has allowed platforms to grow quickly and keep their costs down, yet it has also been the case also that workers have also found they can strike without following the existing regulations. This paper puts forward a critique of platforms and platform capitalism from the perspective of workers, contributing to the ongoing debates about the future of work and worker organising. In particular, it focuses on three dynamics that are driving struggles in the platform economy: the increasing connections between workers who are no longer isolated; the lack of communication and negotiation from platforms, leading to escalating worker action around shared issues; and the internationalisation of platforms, which has laid the basis for new transnational solidarity. Focusing on transport and courier workers, the talk explores how workers build power in different situations. Rather than undermining worker agency, platforms have instead provided the technical basis for the emergence of new global struggles against capitalism.

Dr Jamie Woodcock is a senior lecturer at the University of Essex. He is the author of books including Troublemaking (Verso, 2023), Employment (Routledge, 2023), The Fight Against Platform Capitalism (University of Westminster Press, 2021), The Gig Economy (Polity, 2019), Marx at the Arcade (Haymarket, 2019), and Working the Phones (Pluto, 2017).


The event is part of the Seminar Series “Platform Politics and Policy”.

Researchers from outside the WZB who would like to attend may email the organizer, robert.gorwa [at], to be put onto the seminar series mailing list.