Online Workshop

Mediating the Crisis: Platformisation in the Face of COVID-19

Political Economy Research Centre (PERC), Goldsmiths, University of London

November 26-27, 2020

The Political Economy Research Centre (PERC) at Goldsmiths, University of London, is hosting a two-day workshop to explore the dynamics between the COVID-19 pandemic and digital platforms. The aim of this workshop is to take stock of the platform economy’s current state and discuss how processes of pandemic-boosted platformisation will further affect society and economy. The current crisis is distinct because it unfolds simultaneously as a public health and an economic crisis. In the light of COVID-19, we aim to understand moments of crisis as laboratories for the new normal.

We are putting platforms at the centre of the study of this crisis. While platform capitalism is signified as a historical phase, we aim to understand platformisation from a processual perspective to understand how the platform business model spreads across society. Platformisation does not only affect financial infrastructures and valuation processes, but also social infrastructure. In this regard, we aim to understand how platformisation not only shapes the global labour regime, but also how it impacts the sphere of social reproduction, i.e. housing, health and other social services. We are interested in critical analysis of the emerging life-worlds of platformised social reproduction in the light of underfunded welfare systems and care-burdened households.

We are especially interested in, but not limited to, the following research questions:

Platform business model and finance

  • What are the ways in which platforms have responded to the Covid-19 pandemic?
  • To what extent does financial capital shape the functioning and dynamic of the platform economy?
  • Who drives valuations in the platform economy and how?

Acceleration of existing trends

  • How might the crisis accelerate the spread of the logic of platformisation across society?
  • How might the crisis accelerate the use of technologies in industries and occupations that were not previously impacted by digitisation?

Working conditions 

  • How are the labour market and working conditions on crowd platforms changing?
  • How are the working conditions in platform-mediated service labour changing?
  • What is the role of trade unions in advocating to mitigate the effect of the pandemic on (platform) workers?

Social reproduction

  • How do platforms reshuffle the role of and the relationship between households, the market and the state when it comes to the provision of social reproductive and everyday life activities?
  • What role do public-private partnerships play in the context of platformisation?
  • What does it mean to say that platforms are becoming increasingly infrastructural ? What do we mean by infrastructure?

Research design

  • How did the pandemic affect the ways of investigation, research design and methods deployed?

 

We aim to bring together a small group of early career academics (PhD researchers and postdocs) who seek to address one or more aspects raised in the call. As the research questions indicate, this topic transcends the boundaries of traditional academic disciplines, and we therefore explicitly invite interdisciplinary contributions. We kindly ask for a 200 word abstract to be submitted by 9 October 2020, final contributions should take the form of 20-minute-long presentation. All participants are expected to present their research and to give feedback to other presenters.

Deadline for abstract: 9 October 2020

Notification: 23 October 2020

Workshop (online): 26 and 27 November 2020

Please send your abstract with a short bio to the organisers:

Nils Peters (n.peters@gold.ac.uk)
Rabea Berfelde (rberf001@gold.ac.uk)
Vicky Kluzik (Kluzik@soz.uni-frankfurt.de)