Affective and Emotional Labor in the Platform Economy

Bidragets oversatte titel: Affektivt arbejde og følelsesarbejde i platformsøkonomien

Louise Yung Nielsen, Mette Lykke Nielsen

Publikation: KonferencebidragKonferenceabstrakt til konferenceForskningpeer review


In the so-called platform economy digital platforms such as Upwork and establishes contact between employee and worker. The platforms can operate on a global scale and distribute gigs that do not require a physical meeting such as translation, coding, graphic design work and other highly skilled labor. While other platforms distribute gigs demanding a physical presence locally such as gardening, child care, cleaning and so on. This paper will focus on young Danish female workers under 30, who find paid work on digital platforms. In a Danish context a rather small part of the general population has experience with employment distributed through digital platforms, but it is expected that the numbers will grow. Theoretically this paper is inspired by Michael Hardt’s conception of affective labor (Hardt, 1999) as well as Melissa Gregg’s work on how the emergence of digital media produces an (even more) intimate relation to work (Gregg, 2009).

The paper will explore how the new digital labor markets reinforces a traditional gendered work segmentation in which emotional and affective labor mainly is female workers’ tasks. Through analysis of four qualitative cases of four young women under 30, who find paid work on digital platforms, the paper will explore, the manner in which gendered and bodied conceptions of work manifest in the new digital labor market. The four cases are (1) a 24
year old woman who finds work as a dog walker and sitter on the Danish platform Dogley, (2) a 23 year old woman who finds work as a child sitter on the American platform, (3) a 21 year old woman who finds work as a copy editor on two different Danish platforms, and last (4) a 27 year old woman who finds digital marketing jobs through the Danish platform Worksome. These cases are a part of a larger qualitative study of the digital labor market in Denmark.

Through previous studies of the platform economy we already know that the digital platforms reinforce the emergence of boundaryless work. Partly due to the fact that workers are expected to be accessible for requests beyond regular working hours, but also due to the fact that some tasks can be distributed, negotiated, solved, evaluated and paid without the worker leaving her computer, which means work can permeate the private sphere and increase and intensify the workload in ways we do not yet know the consequences of. Further the boundaries between the private and the professional is destabilized and renegotiated. In this paper we wish to explore how this precarious digital framework reinforces a gendered work segmentation. The paper will perform an analysis of how emotional and affective labor is constituted as work (still) primarily expected by the young women in our empirical data, but also how the emotional and affective labor is reshaped in new forms in the platform economy.
Bidragets oversatte titelAffektivt arbejde og følelsesarbejde i platformsøkonomien
StatusUdgivet - 2019
BegivenhedSASE – Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, Annual Conference: Fathomless Futures: Algorithmic and Imagined - New School, New York City, USA
Varighed: 26 jun. 201929 jun. 2019


KonferenceSASE – Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, Annual Conference
LokationNew School
ByNew York City

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