E(a)ffective Precarity, Control and Resistance in the Digitalised Workplace
Chapter from the book: Chandler D. & Fuchs C. 2019. Digital Objects, Digital Subjects: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Capitalism, Labour and Politics in the Age of Big Data.
The mobility and flexibility of workers has been acutely normalised in workplaces, but as workers are increasingly expected to self-manage in sometimes barbaric conditions seen in ‘gig’ work, technology begins to take the place of physical management. As the use of work tracking technologies proliferate, work design experiments seek to provide justification of increased workplace surveillance. In offices, the merging of wellness with productivity measure and modulate the affective and emotional labour of resilience. In factories and warehouses, new devices are being used explicitly to make firing decisions. My research shows that workers are beginning to fight back against such interventions. Documenting interviews with an anonymised warehouse worker whose work is intensively tracked; the now well-known bicycle courier and Chair of the Independent Workers Great Britain union Mags Dewhurst; and several full time creative workers who took part in a ‘Quantified Workplace’ experiment carried out by a company over the course of a year, this chapter looks at a range of instances where digitalised workers have pushed back and enacted effective resistance to affective forms of control, revealing significant tensions in the labour process when all-of-life is digitally ensnared.