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Introduction. Digital labor and crisis of the wage labor system

  • Federico Cicchi
  • Marco Marrone
  • Antonio A. Casilli
settembre 12, 2022


In this introduction the editors of the Special Issue of Sociologia del lavoro devoted to digital labor and the crisis of the wage-labor system, analyse recent trends in the scholarship of platform capitalism in the aftermath of the pandemic outbreak. Platforms are not only a type of business model – they have become a crucial infrastructure around which society reorganizes itself. They extract value not only from traditional labor activities, but also from the social cooperation. Their operations permeate even private spaces and turn social ties such as kinship, friendship, and sexuality into complex monetization schemes. This process represents a departure from the salary institution, where identity was mostly linked to the position occupied by each individual with respect to work and wages. Ultimately, the hidden dimension of digital capitalism is represented by automation which, contrary to the prevailing opinion, does not mark the decline of human labor. A huge amount of data, and data work, is required to deploy platforms’ algorithms. Such work is performed by under- and micro-paid remote providers, often residing in low-income countries. Even if platform capitalism appears stronger since the Covid-19 outbreak, it is far from mastering the global challenges it triggers. As its contradictions become apparent, new struggles of digital workers become more visible and better organized.


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