Reconfiguring Work and Organizing for Post-Pandemic Futures

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* Special Issue: Reconfiguring work and organizing for post-pandemic futures (Work, reconfigured). By Ekaterina Chertkovskaya, Ozan Nadir Alakavuklar and Emil Husted. Ephemera,

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"The contributions to this open issue all reflect on the themes of work, digitalization, and alternative organizing. Although they were all written before the pandemic, the current situation has not made them less relevant, but, on the contrary, has accelerated their urgency. The contributions critically reflect on the current trends in the capitalist mode of production, to which a new wave of digitalization and reorganization of work are key. This adds to the long-standing discussion of capitalism and work in ephemera (e.g. Beverungen et al., 2013; Butler et al., 2011; Chertkovskaya et al., 2013; Chertkovskaya et al., 2016). Many authors also address another theme that has been actively pursued by the journal – that of alternative organizing (e.g. Graziano and Trogal, 2019; Johnsen et al., 2017; Phillips and Jeanes, 2018; Stoborod and Swann, 2014). Here, the voices within the issue envision a different organization of our societies, rethinking work, leadership, management, and governance in profound and far-reaching ways."


* Article: At the heart of new work practices: A paradoxical approach to silence in a coworking space. Special issue: Work, reconfigured. By Stephanie Faure, Jeremy Aroles, and François-Xavier de Vaujany. Ephemera, volume 20(4), 2020

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Excerpted via : Coworking Today - France


Sample articles:

"Digital transformations at work:

What is brought to light in Schaupp and Diab’s article is not only how ‘industrie 4.0’ overturns labor processes that have existed for half a century, and how this shift in capitalist modes of production introduces a new type of market-based control at the workplace. It also shows how much this particular production regime hinges on digital technology. Digitalization is often heralded by techno-optimists and mainstream management authors as inherently progressive waves of transformation that ‘contain more goodness than anything else we know’ (Kelly, 2010: 359). However, numerous empirical studies have shown that there is a darker side to the introduction of digital technology at the workplace (Plesner and Husted, 2020; Trittin- Ulbrich et al., 2020). For instance, while some have pointed to the role of digitalization in accentuating unhealthy workplace conflicts (e.g. Upchurch and Grassman, 2016), others have emphasized the enormous potential for worker surveillance that is embedded in digital technologies (e.g. Ball and Wilson, 2000; Van Oort, 2018; Zuboff, 1988). Furthermore, a series of studies have investigated tech-based challenges to the professional identity of various occupational groups (e.g. Petrakaki et al., 2016; Plesner and Raviola, 2016), and how digitalization sometimes creates illusions of human emancipation (e.g. Ossewarde and Reijers, 2017) and workplace democracy (e.g. Turco, 2016). Finally, while digitalization is often presented as something ‘immaterial’ and magically enabled by technology, it comes with a substantial biophysical throughput, manifested as the incredible amounts of energy, materials, and waste that are needed to make digitalization happen (the Shift Project, 2019)."

"Corporate-driven and enabled by digitalization, platform capitalism and gig economy take away workers’ control over the labor process through new configurations, which poses a challenge for resistance and labor struggle. In a first-hand account of working for the food delivery platform Deliveroo, Callum Cant presents us the initial attempts of organizing worker resistance in the times of algorithmic capitalism in the case of Deliveroo workers’ strike in Brighton, UK. Cant conducts a labor process analysis of the Deliveroo platform and demonstrates not only the developments in the technical aspect of capital accumulation through the lean platform of Deliveroo, but also the political challenges of organizing class struggle from a workers’ perspective. While the workers organize themselves for direct action through invisible organizations, with the assistance of in-person and digitally mediated communication, Cant’s ethnographic account shows how collective resistance can be fragile due to class fractions leading to a loss of control over the labor process by workers and limited gains.

Transformations of work towards digitalization, as this section has shown, are often designed to benefit capital, coming with precarious flexibility, substitution of workers by technology, and new forms of exploitation. Furthermore, digitalization aimed at producing more will come with higher biophysical throughput and might prevent possibilities for repair or waste prevention in the first place. It is a radically different understanding of work and economy that is needed for socio-ecological transformation, to which we now turn."