Digitalised management, control and resistance in platform work: a labour process analysis

Joyce, S., Stuart, M. (2021). Chapter 7 in Work and Labour Relations in Global Platform Capitalism. Cheltenham, UK

The era of platform work has presented employment researchers with a number of challenges. In this chapter, we focus on conceptual and theoretical issues; specifically, the problem of how best to understand platform worker contestation and resistance. To do this, we develop an application of labour process theory (Braverman 1974; Edwards 1989, 1990; Hyman 1987; Littler 1982;
Thompson 1990). While the control–resistance duality of labour process approaches is fairly familiar in platform work research, to date there has been a significant – indeed, problematic – overemphasis of control, while platform worker resistance has been correspondingly downplayed (for instance, Gandini 2019; Howcroft and Bergvall-Kåreborn 2019; Rosenblat and Stark
2016; Shapiro 2018; Sharma 2020; Veen et al. 2020; Wood et al. 2018). The overemphasis of control in previous research – while in some ways understandable, given the novelty of algorithmic technology – has skewed accounts of platform work’s nature and dynamics. In particular, platform worker resistance has been under-researched and under-theorised. This chapter aims
to redress the balance.

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