Digital Labour and Workers’ Organisation

Woodcock, Jamie (2018). Digital Labour and Workers’ Organisation. In: Atzeni, Mauricio and Ness, Immanuel eds. Global Perspectives on Workers' and Labour Organizations. Work, Organization, and Employment. Work, Organization, and Employment. Singapore: Springer, pp. 157–173.



The rise of digital labour is changing how people work and provides new challenges for worker organisation. Beyond this, there is disagreement on what exactly constitutes digital labour and its impact more broadly. These processes are differentiated on a global scale, with different dynamics in the global North and South. This chapter address these questions in two parts, drawing on the Autonomist Marxist concept of class composition. First, it examines the technical composition of digital labour, looking at the organisation of digital labour process by capital. This covers four examples: customer service operators, software developers, outsourced moderation workers, and crowdsourcing workers – while also focusing on India and China. Second, it discusses the political composition of these workers, focusing on forms of resistance, struggle, and organisation. The example of software developers is considered here due to the role they play in creating and maintaining the software upon which other labour processes rely. The chapter argues that these components provide important insights into how capital is reorganising work through the application of digital technologies –these are situated as the result of class struggle, rather than neutral tools. It emphasises the potential of new forms of resistance and organisation in a digital context.

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