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Digital creep: The ‘platformisation’ of paid and unpaid work

Platform work is integral to discussion of the future of work. Robust data on platform working is difficult to generate and hampers scientific and policymaking understanding of platform work. Dr Sally Wright will use data from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) COLLEEM III survey to explore the impact of digitalisation on work. Digitalisation is leading to the ‘platformisation’ of work beyond those in the platform (or gig) economy. Digitalisation is impacting on the way work is organised and the working conditions of workers in ‘regular’ employment (i.e. ‘platformisation’). Digital content that is produced by an army of unpaid digital labour is also being monetized by platforms. Thus, there is a blurring of the boundaries between paid and unpaid digital labour.

Located within the European Commission’s Directorate for Growth and Innovation, the Human Capital and Employment Unit of the Joint Research Centre (JRC) has a programme of work exploring the impact of digital labour platforms on employment. After conducting two previous waves focussed on platform-mediated work, the third wave of the JRC’s COLLEEM survey was extended to measure the use of digital platforms for the purposes of work organisation in the regular economy, and its implications for working conditions for the general workforce. The survey also includes questions around the types of content being produced by unpaid digital labour, its incidence and the motivations beyond them producing unpaid digital content.

Dr Wright will analyse empirical data collected from the third wave of COLLEEM (2022) to explore how the impact of digitalisation on paid and unpaid work. The analysis will explore such themes as digital tool usage, algorithmic management and digital surveillance, and the production of unpaid digital content.