Speaker: Phoebe V Moore

6pm, Wednesday 31st January 2018

Richard Hoggart Building, Room 137a, Goldsmiths

The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts by Phoebe V Moore (Routledge, 2017) is the state of the art text on how technology and the use of technology for management and self-management changes the ‘quantified’, precarious workplace today. Humans are accustomed to being tool bearers, but what happens when machines become tool bearers, where the tool is seemingly ever more precise with calculation about human labour, via the use of big data and people analytics by metrics and algorithm? Data, as quantified output, is treated as a neutral arbiter and judge, and is being prioritised over qualitative judgements in ‘agile’ key performance indicator management systems and digitalised client based relationships. From insecure ‘gig’ work, surveillance and electronic performance monitoring in factory settings, to workplace health and wellness initiatives in office work including sensory tracking devices, digitalisation is not an inevitable process. Nor is it one that improves working conditions or inevitably eliminates work, as many hope. Before too long it will be possible for employers to quite literally track our blood, sweat and tears, including affective and emotional labour: but to continue to avoid paying for it. These issues are linked to increased rates of precarity both objective and subjective. Scientific management asked us to be precise and efficient. Now, to add to these demands, workers are asked to be agile and to compete directly with machines. What will this mean for the everyday lives we lead, and what can we do about it?

Dr Phoebe V Moore is an Associate Professor in the School of Business, Leicester University. Moore’s critical research focusses on work, technology and political economy. She has published extensively in these topics and her arguments about the pressures digitalized workers face globally are being used for a new International Labour Organisation (UN) labour standard, and feature in several international news outlets including the Financial Times and BBC World Service.    

All are welcome and no registration is required. For details on how to find Goldsmiths, click here.