Digitisation, and the future of labour and migration
Manuela Bojadzijev (Humboldt University Berlin)
Johan Lindquist (Stockholm University)
Tuesday 14 August, 10:30-12:15, 13:15-15:00 (UTC+0)

Short abstract:

Digitisation is not only profoundly transforming labour but also mobility and migration. The panel welcomes papers on the basis of exemplary ethnographic cases and investigation, which connect these two related fields of research.

Long abstract:

Digitisation is profoundly transforming labour and mobility. On the one hand, almost all existing areas of work are changing as digitisation produces new forms of labour. With the help of the internet, work is increasingly globally distributed and organized, thus transforming labour relations. On the other hand, labour mobility itself is changing, as working in the global digital economy may both entail traditional forms of physical migration, and, for low-skilled workers, in particular, an increasingly precarious existence in the "gig economy." For others, however, the outsourcing of labour to the global south, for instance, entails a form of "virtual migration" (Aneesh 2006) that may demand particular transformations of the self without physical mobility. More generally, at the center of the transformation of labor and mobility is the rise of digital platforms: from online retail, over taxi and food delivery services, through to crowdworking platforms for digital labour. While the platform-driven digitisation of labour and life is beginning to receive attention within the social sciences, there is a lack of studies with ethnographic depth, especially concerning the practices of mobility and the migration projects produced by this transformation of the world of work.

The panel welcomes papers on the basis of exemplary ethnographic cases, on globally distributed digital labour, on digital platforms, and digitised labour on the "last mile" of parcel and delivery services, on citizenship and labour rights, on changing gender relations and household structures. More specifically, we invite papers that engage with the transforming and the often paradoxical and complex relationship between labour and migration in this regard.