The last two decades have seen profound transformations of work, both in the process of work organisation and in the functioning of the labour market. Among these, the most recent and fastest is the computerisation of work, in particular the digitisation of work. A new frontier has thus opened up in the field of work and, at the same time, in the exploitation and precarisation of work, which the current health and social-economic crisis is widening out of all proportion. The practice and the myth of “smart working” are the visible signs of a planetary dynamic of capitalist matrix which, once again, presents the possible liberation and humanization of labour within the framework of a new, and perhaps more radical, alienation, atomization and subordination of labour to the imperatives of the market and profit.
The aim of this issue of the Journal is to critically analyse this dynamic, paying particular attention to the relationship between the so-called “digital platforms” and their “applications”: alongside the intense development of informal and digital technology, we are witnessing the expansion of different modes of intense exploitation of the workforce, which is expressed in highly precarious working conditions, long working days, low wages, high levels of illness. Usually these new forms of work are presented as free and autonomous “services”, the workers involved become “self-entrepreneurs”, “masters” of their working time. And this allows the platforms, i.e. the companies that own and control them, to circumvent and cheat on the labour laws of the countries in which they operate.
From this set of labour transformation processes, in which the technological element appears on the surface as prevalent on the structure of social relations that actually subsume it, important issues emerge that are of great interest for this call for papers dedicated to digital work:
- What, in fact, characterizes this new mode of work? First of all: Is it something completely new, for the use it makes of ITC resources, or is it a combination of old and new forms of work organization? Based on what criteria, and for what purposes, were the algorithms built? How do they control the time and intensity of work? Who controls the algorithms? What is the role of artificial intelligence in these new forms of work delivery? What are, in them, the connections between materiality, immateriality, digital work and the creation of value and wealth? What about the exploitation of labour and overwork (surplus value)? How does the creation of surplus value take place when work is unpaid? What are the new ways taken up by the conflict between capital and labour? Is it possible to regulate these jobs that do not stop expanding?
- There are also important questions relating to the social consequences of the computerization and digitization of work, which are also of great importance for this issue of the Journal: the impact of computerization on work intensification and working time; the effects of digitization on the qualification/dequalification processes of work and workers; the relationship between digitization and precarization; the impact of digitization on wages, and on de-salarization phenomena; digitization as an element of (material, social, psychological) impoverishment and a factor of new social inequalities.
- And last but not least: with the expansion of the so-called Industry 4.0 - which will further intensify the robotization and digital automation in all possible activities, through the "internet of things", the expansion of artificial intelligence, with profound consequences on employment - what are the main consequences for the working class? What is the new configuration of the working class? What are the possible forms of resistance, organisation and representation of this growing part of the working class?
We invite article proposal submissions that respond to the above issues and questions. Proposal submissions should include information about the author(s), their institutional affiliations, their contact details, a 500 words (maximum) abstract, some keywords (from a minimum of 3 to a maximum of 5). Once selected, papers should be between 5000 and 8000 words (excluding bibliography).
Languages: English, French, Italian, Spanish. Please follow the instructions gathered in the Author’s guidelines. All texts must be transmitted in a format compatible with Windows (.doc or .rtf), following the instructions provided by the Peer Review Process. Please see the Journal’s Author’s guidelines.
Abstracts must be submitted by email to:
- Antunes Ricardo – University of Campinas (firstname.lastname@example.org)
- Basso Pietro – University of Venice (email@example.com)
- Perocco Fabio – University of Venice (firstname.lastname@example.org)
May 15th, 2020 – proposals’ abstract submission
- May 30th, 2020 – selection
- November 1st, 2020 – articles submission
- November 30th, 2020 – double blind peer review
- December 30th, 2020 revising of the articles according to the reviewers’ comments
- February 2021 – publishing