The political economy of platformization

This project studies the growing (yet contested) power of platforms in the post-2008 crisis era from a critical political economy perspective. It seeks to both theorize and empirically chart the pathways through which platforms integrate themselves into different institutional contexts, while at the same time reworking these contexts to produce new forms of precarity and exploitation, along with new emancipatory possibilities. In this sense, it is interested in the extent to which so-called ‘platform capitalism’ is continuous with prior capitalist forms as well as the extent to which it represents a departure from these very forms.

The following questions guide this project:

  • Is platformization a neoliberal phenomenon or does it represent a departure from neoliberal ideas and practices?
  • Have platforms reshaped labor and social reproduction? If so, what are the emergent forms of work that they cultivate? How do they affect the distribution of reproductive tasks in the household?
  • What are the spatial effects of platformization? How do platforms disrupt existing scalar configurations (i.e. social relations at urban/national/international/etc. scales)? What are some ways in which platforms have reshuffled relations at the urban scale?

This project adopts a comparative approach to studying these research questions, focusing on the three cities which are central to the Platform Labor project: Amsterdam, Berlin and New York City. It cuts across the three other subprojects and their focus on food delivery, cleaning, care, volunteering and home rental platforms. In this way, it seeks to bring them in conversation with each other to formulate a broader understanding of platforms and platformization in these three cities (and beyond).

Research Team
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