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Friday, October 12 • 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Networked Labor

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The internet has long supported the productive practices of users. Whether focused on “serious leisure” through hobbies or “casual work” via vocational activities, various forms of labor have played a part of our networked lives for decades. This roundtable will explore labor and production facilitated via online platforms. Rather than reduce such activities to notions of exploitation or a simple valorization of user-engagement, this conversation will explore the creative, nuanced, and even at times ambivalent approaches people take to their forms of labor online. It will also situate these practices within a socio-technical milieu and with an eye on policy, economy, governance, discourse, and alternatives.

To help kick off a larger group discussion, each of our four participants will offer an opening five- minute remark drawn from their fieldsites: on-demand digital labor, live streaming, ride hailing and delivery platforms, and gaming recruitment. Looking across what might otherwise appear as divergent domains, we seek to build a discussion about work online that cuts across sectors not typically in conversation. Opening remarks will seed the following topics for discussion, though are not limited to: the ways notions of aspiration and “passion” get morally leveraged; affective online work; how materialities and existing material conditions remain a salient node of inquiry; cooperation and activism amongst platform workers; modes of platform governance and control; and navigations around precarity.


Gershon, I. 2017. Down and Out in the New Economy: How People Find (or Don’t Find) Work Today. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Irani, L. 2015. The cultural work of microwork. New Media & Society, 17(5), 720–739.

Rosenblat, A., & Stark, L. 2016. Algorithmic labor and information asymmetries. International Journal of Communication, 10, 3758–3784.

Seaver, N. 2017. Algorithms as culture: Some tactics for the ethnography of algorithmic systems. Big Data & Society, 4(2), 1–12.

Friday October 12, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm EDT
Sheraton - Salon 6