Forthcoming
Niels van Doorn
Julie Yujie Chen

Odds Stacked Against Workers

This article presents a cross-national comparative study that examines how American and Chinese platform companies approach the gamification of food delivery. The study, based on ethnographic fieldwork in New York City and Beijing, highlights…
This article presents a cross-national comparative study that examines how American and Chinese platform companies approach the gamification of food delivery. The study, based on ethnographic fieldwork in New York City and Beijing, highlights how couriers in both cities negotiate the gamified systems designed to convince them to log in and keep working. We argue that the deeply financialized industry of platform-based food delivery compels companies to implement data-driven gamification techniques, in an effort to manipulate their flexible labor supply in the most agile and cost-effective way possible. Accordingly, we posit gamification as not only a salient form of “algorithmic management” but also as a central pivot connecting labor process datafication to financialization. Through an analysis of couriers’ experiences with two nationally distinct approaches to labor gamification, we challenge existing understandings of algorithmic management that are largely based on the operations of Western platforms.
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Odds Stacked Against Workers
2020-04-18
Eva Mos
Sociale Vraagstukken

Is solidariteit een kwestie van digitale bemiddeling?

Article published on Sociale Vraagstukken (Dutch) Abstract: Door de coronacrisis laten mensen digitale platforms zoals Airbnb en Uber vrijwel links liggen. Buurt- en vrijwilligersplatforms daarentegen worden overstelpt door mensen die hun…
Article published on Sociale Vraagstukken (Dutch) Abstract: Door de coronacrisis laten mensen digitale platforms zoals Airbnb en Uber vrijwel links liggen. Buurt- en vrijwilligersplatforms daarentegen worden overstelpt door mensen die hun hulp aanbieden. Is solidariteit een simpele kwestie van digitale bemiddeling geworden?
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Is solidariteit een kwestie van digitale bemiddeling?
2020-02-13
Niels van Doorn
Olav Velthuis
Working Paper

Weathering winner-take-all. How rankings constitute competition on webcam sex platforms, and what performers can do about it

Forthcoming in: David Stark (ed.), The Performance Complex: Competitions and Valuations in Social Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Over the last decade, the global sex industry has been radically transformed by the rise of webcam sex…
Forthcoming in: David Stark (ed.), The Performance Complex: Competitions and Valuations in Social Life, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Over the last decade, the global sex industry has been radically transformed by the rise of webcam sex platforms. In this essay we show how rankings are constitutive of competition in this new, emerging part of the sex industry. The ranking algorithms are highly contested among performers, in particular because of their opaque nature and the strong winner-take-all dynamics which they propel. Creating deep uncertainty and anxiety among performers, the algorithms are widely seen as unfair. However, the wider assemblage of market devices constituted by webcam sex platforms, enable performers to circumvent the rankings at least to some degree. Moreover, on discussion forums where performers negotiate strategies to make a living, they actively share experiences of algorithms on competing platforms, discuss which algorithm suits their interests best, and consider vacating to rival platforms. Indeed, how market competition is organized within platforms, is constrained by competition between them.
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Weathering winner-take-all. How rankings constitute competition on webcam sex platforms, and what performers can do about it
2020-05-27
Niels van Doorn
Working Paper

Stepping stone or dead end? The ambiguities of platform-mediated domestic work under conditions of austerity urbanism

This is an extended version of a book chapter that will appear in a collection on the impacts of austerity on work and employment, edited by Donna Baines and Ian Cunningham (forthcoming with Bristol University Press). The paper examines how,…
This is an extended version of a book chapter that will appear in a collection on the impacts of austerity on work and employment, edited by Donna Baines and Ian Cunningham (forthcoming with Bristol University Press). The paper examines how, under nationally and locally distinct conditions of austerity urbanism, marginalized workers navigate platform-mediated gig economies. It focuses specifically on the experiences of immigrants and minorities working through domestic cleaning platforms. In NYC, we meet Tish and Kenny: two African American cleaners who were driven to the Handy platform – and to cleaning work more specifically – through their encounters with labor activation schemes. Each has an ambivalent relationship to the platform, which provided them with a somewhat steady income stream when they sorely needed one, while also making it difficult to transition out of gig work and into a more secure and sustainable occupation. In Berlin, we hear from Kostas and Alexis, two Greek young men who left their austerity-ridden country to look for better opportunities in the nation widely held responsible for enforcing the measures that bled Greece dry. Yet when such opportunities proved harder to come by than they had initially imagined, they turned to Helpling as an easily accessible “employer of last resort” (sans employment contract). Like Tish and Kenny, Kostas and Alex have a deeply ambivalent relationship to their platform, which is nevertheless articulated in distinctive ways. The paper concludes by stressing the value of cross-national comparative ethnography as a methodological approach able to grasp the local iterations of global phenomena like “neoliberalism", “austerity” and "gig work", while highlighting the deep yet severely unequal mutual dependency between local-serving labor platforms and migrant/minority workers.
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Stepping stone or dead end? The ambiguities of platform-mediated domestic work under conditions of austerity urbanism
2019-12-29
Niels van Doorn
New Media & Society

A new institution on the block: On platform urbanism and Airbnb citizenship

This article argues that Airbnb should be understood as a new urban institution that is transforming relations between market, state, and civil society actors. Taking the Airbnb Citizen advocacy initiative as my case, I examine how this transnational…
This article argues that Airbnb should be understood as a new urban institution that is transforming relations between market, state, and civil society actors. Taking the Airbnb Citizen advocacy initiative as my case, I examine how this transnational “home sharing” platform achieves such transformations, which in turn requires an investigation into the specific nature of Airbnb as an institutional form. Assuming the agenda-setting role of the urban “regulatory entrepreneur,” Airbnb aims to co-shape the terms of current and future policy debates pertaining not just to home sharing/short-term rental but also to the very fabric of city life. It pursues this mode of “platform urbanism” by mobilizing its user base, which it frames as a community of entrepreneurial middle-class citizens looking to supplement their income in a climate of economic insecurity and tech-enabled opportunity. Yet, who is the “Airbnb Citizen” and what are the opportunities and risks associated with platform-mediated citizenship?
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A new institution on the block: On platform urbanism and Airbnb citizenship
2019-06-20
Niels van Doorn
DigiLabour

Niels van Doorn: “O trabalho de plataforma é trabalho de minorias”

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Niels van Doorn: “O trabalho de plataforma é trabalho de minorias”
2019-06-08
Niels van Doorn
Notes from below

On the conditions of possibility for worker organizing in platform-based gig economies

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On the conditions of possibility for worker organizing in platform-based gig economies
2018-11-14
Niels van Doorn
Krisis: Journal for Contemporary Philosophy

The Parameters of Platform Capitalism

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The Parameters of Platform Capitalism
2018-04-09
Niels van Doorn
Olav Velthuis
Journal of Cultural Economy

A good hustle: the moral economy of market competition in adult webcam modeling

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A good hustle: the moral economy of market competition in adult webcam modeling
2018-02-03
Niels van Doorn
Quartz at work

Late for a job in the gig economy? Handy will dock your pay

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Late for a job in the gig economy? Handy will dock your pay
2017-02-24
Niels van Doorn
Information, Communication & Society

Platform labor: on the gendered and racialized exploitation of low-income service work in the ‘on-demand’ economy

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Platform labor: on the gendered and racialized exploitation of low-income service work in the ‘on-demand’ economy
2017-02-01
Niels van Doorn
Culture Digitally

Analysis: Platform cooperativism and the problem of the outside

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Analysis: Platform cooperativism and the problem of the outside
2016-11-30
Niels van Doorn
Data & Society: Points

Toward a Just Future for Platform Labor

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Toward a Just Future for Platform Labor
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