Critical Political Economy of Design

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= How does the design of digital technologies reproduce or challenge the relations of production?


Sasha Costanza-Chock:

"Design is a key ‘moment’ in the reproduction of social and economic relationships and social control under white supremacist capitalist heteropatriarchy and settler colonialism. At the same time, there is a growing conversation about platform cooperativism vs. the so-called ‘sharing economy’ (Scholz and Schneider, 2016). We need to consider the application of design justice principles to labor market platform development. The main point is that platform ownership is a key source of capitalist profitability and worker exploitation, and that counterstrategies include organic self-organization, platform organizing by labor unions, and platform cooperativism. Examples include Turkopticon, SherpaShare,,’s partnership with NDWA, the development of apps by taxi worker cooperatives, and so on. Design justice, applied to the development of digital labor markets, requires that designers and developers involve workers, worker advocacy organizations, and cooperatives from the beginning in the design of (cooperative, worker owned) platforms in various sectors. Platform cooperativism is an important proposal with a growing group of adherents. At the same time, platform cooperativism will not be able to advance as a liberatory project if it fails to fully incorporate an intersectional feminist analysis of capitalism." (

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