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The Gigification of Work - Quo Vadis?

Theme 2021

As digital platforms expand, we are seeing a growing sector of platform-mediated work activity. Organising work in this way impacts both work- and tenure conditions and thus also societal power structures. The development of the platform economy means that we are facing changes that will entail far-reaching consequences for society's development.

Departing from this point, the focus of this theme will be the forms and effects of platform-mediated work, the so-called platform economy. The fundamental principle of platform-facilitated work is that an intermediator, a platform company, temporarily connects people and organisations who require a service with someone willing to deliver that service, the platform worker. The situation produces a gig. In economic terms, a gig entails the production of a service that can only be consumed in the moment of production. The meaning is more concrete for the person performing the task: it is temporary work. Seen from a historic perspective, gigs have always existed; the new digital platforms are what frame and facilitate gigs today.

What, then, are the social, political, ethical, legal, medical, historical and organisational effects of platform-mediated labour? The emergence of digital platforms and marketplace transactions between individuals and organisations has– and will likely continue to have – transformational economic, societal and cultural consequences. As an example, employment in the economic area of digital platforms is expected to increase significantly in the next five years. Changes to e.g. labour environments and income distribution can also be anticipated.

About the Theme

In this Theme, we will investigate these changes from different disciplinary perspectives. In addition to studying historical and contemporary experiences, we will also formulate future scenarios. What images of the future can be formulated, and what is being formulated? The transformational consequences of platform labour are many, and the effects on all areas of life are thus a focus for our theme.

The Theme brings together researchers with backgrounds in the humanities, medicine, the social sciences, law and technology. Guest researchers will also contribute their expertise to the Theme, and together we will offer new perspectives on the transformation of working life.