RUL talk: Dr Nelli Kambouri, Thinking about affective and reproductive labour in offline work managed by online platforms.

Join Nelli’s talk live here on November 17th.

The literature on platform labour has addressed affective labour mostly in relation to online platforms like Facebook, in which unpaid tasks are carried out in a seemingly seamless environment of entertainment, leisure and fun. Most users that carry out this unpaid affective labour do not even realise that the content they are producing and the digital interactions that they take part in are labour practices and that these are in fact part of the production process. In that sense, large digital companies extractivism of digital social relation is fundamental to the critique of contemporary digital capitalism.

My research interest lies in expanding that critique to include different types of platforms, including those that involve offline work. In the past years I have conducted research on platforms that manage offline work, including delivery, transport, domestic work and care, and short-term rentals as part of the PLUS project The research was conducted in London from 2019-2022 and included interviews with platform workers and participants observation in Uber, Deliveroo and Airbnb. In the context of this rearach, I came across several care and affective practices that emerge within and around those platforms determining how labour relations are organised and how inequalities of class, gender, ethnicity and race are produced. Thus I tried to explore the following questions:

  • How can we include reproductive labour and work-life balance in our analyses of this type of platform labour?
  • How can we rethink affective labour in these platforms from an intersectional gender perspective?
  • How is algorithmic control impacting work-life balance and on affective labour emerging within and/or around these platforms?

Nelli Kambouri is a political scientist currently working as a senior research fellow at the Centre for Gender Studies, Department of Social Policy, Panteion University of Social and Political Sciences, in Athens Greece.

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