Platform Capitalism’s Hidden Abode: Producing Data Assets in the Gig Economy

Platform Capitalism’s Hidden Abode: Producing Data Assets in the Gig Economy
Niels van Doorn
Adam Badger
2020-06-03
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In this article, we argue that the governance of gig work under conditions of financialised platform capitalism is characterised by a process that we call “dual value production”: the monetary value produced by the service provided is augmented by the use and speculative value of the data produced before, during, and after service provision. App‐governed gig workers hence function as pivotal conduits in software systems that produce digital data as a particular asset class. We reflect on the production of data assets and the unequal distribution of opportunities for their valorisation, after which we survey a number of strategies seeking data‐centric worker empowerment. These strategies, we argue, are crucial attempts to push back against platform capitalism’s domination, bankrolled by what we term “meta‐platforms”. Ultimately, it is the massive wealth and synergetic capacities of meta‐platforms that constitute the most formidable obstacle to worker power and social justice in increasingly data‐driven societies.