International Colloquium on the Political Economy of Platformisation (ICPEP)

Keynote: Cristiano Codagnone Professor, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya and Milan State University

The paradox of the sharing/collaborative economy, defined simultaneously as part of capitalist production, but also an alternative to it, is complicated further by the fact that contemporary research into the political economy of platformisation relies mostly on platforms’ own data and has been produced by platforms themselves or in dependent collaboration with, due to the proprietary attitude platforms have about their data. The owners of platforms rely on future regulatory decisions based on such research, decisions which are set to be fought in parliaments, in courts and on the streets.

Despite the obvious differentiation between large privately own gig economy platforms and smaller cooperativist style community-oriented platforms and the various in-between modalities, the management of internal and external labour is not a mere exercise in producing value, as it not only affects structural conditions cutting across industrial sectors, but it also produces particular ideological and cultural production discourses, currently involving the recuperation of the commons and community as moral justification registers.

The role of the state and capital in backing non-profit platforms as providers of public service, making up what the state cannot provide and corporations can redeem as social responsibility tokens, is a red herring concealing the dismantling of local work forces into transnational online labour markets, which are unregulated in terms of liability, taxation, insurance and social protection. In relation to the innovation vs. social justice debate in platformisation politics, the promise of objective algocratic governance through appeals to the magic of algorithms (search, coordination and transaction cost reduction) has so far failed to deliver increased employment and enhanced productivity, whilst new labour laws are radicalising workers across the globe, struggling against unsustainable capital accumulation relied upon unicorn notions of an environmentally conscious circular economy.

In this context, the colloquium invites contributions which investigate online labour markets, workers’ socio-demographic profiles, employment status, histories, earnings, motivations, how they consider the choice between gig and other forms of work and how they assess the experience of working for digital labour markets, as well as issues of control, algorithm management, and working conditions through qualitative in-depth studies, quantitative studies , or work that looks more specifically at regulations and labour law for these new forms of employment across sectors and particularly in the creative industries (see ‘Toward a Research Agenda’ in Cristiano Codagnone, Fabienne Abadie and Federico Biagi, 2016, The Future of Work in the Sharing Economy, Joint Research Centre, Science for Policy Report, European Commission, p.59).


University of Leicester. Leicester



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