Accepted Paper:

Beyond control: thinking automation through social reproduction theory  

Author:

Tsvetelina Hristova (Western Sydney university)

Paper short abstract:

Drawing on ethnographic research on digitalisation and outsourcing of healthcare diagnostics in radiology, I propose a rethinking of the concept of automation through the changes in the relation between production and social reproduction.

Paper long abstract:

The digitalisation of healthcare has allowed for the international outsourcing of imaging diagnostics depending on times zones and labour costs. I draw on research in teleradiology offices in Sydney and Bangalore, where outsourcing chains built upon the digital infrastructures of specialised information systems get entangled with new relations and dependencies within the workforce. Some of these relations (re)inforce hierarchies of international inequality by weaving together race and national qualification. As the US-certified radiologists are turned into a valuable resource for the companies, their productivity is maximised through a digitally organised workflow, as well as through practices of implicit emotional labour and care work performed by other workers in the companies. I focus on the care relations embedded in these hierarchies between the workers and analyse them in connection to the role of social reproduction in sustaining the operations of the digital and non-digital infrastructures for teleradiology. This opens the possibility of rethinking the notion of labour automation beyond the problem of control and through examining the field of (social) reproduction as a field of capitalist valorisation in a new paradigm of self-generation and expenditure.

Panel P057
Digitisation, and the future of labour and migration