Moving beyond microwork

TitleMoving beyond microwork
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsGallagher M
EditorJandric P, Peters MA, Means AJ
Book TitleEducation and Technological Unemployment
Pagination279 - 296
PublisherSpringer Singapore
ISBN Number9789811362248
Keywordscritical pedagogy, digital education, digital labour, EMPLOYMENT, higher education, ICT4 Development, microwork
Abstract

Digital labour is often reduced to microwork, granular tasks disassociated from a larger work project, and the labour market to serve these activities is distributed and largely unorganized as a collective body. Larger platform employers such as Amazon Mechanical Turk and Samasource have mobilised large pools of labour towards microtasks which, often, aggregate into a larger work process made opaque to the labour used to complete them. Some link this micowork to poverty alleviation suggesting the public good that might arise from such a workplace and larger industry reconfiguration. Yet, an important feature of microwork is a general placelessness that subverts labour and the communities from which this labour emerges.Education has largely aligned itself with this efficiency and microwork maxims in moves towards granular capacities that are both restrictive and empowering. In these contexts education is reduced to serving the granularization in work that automation and microwork has accelerated. Yet, there is a role for an education that embraces the ‘messy’ configurations of digital labour, one that provides a futures dimension and a critical capacity for redefining the futures of work. This chapter explores this microwork contexts and suggests several educational reconfigurations that might serve this critical capacity.

DOI10.1007/978-981-13-6225-5_18
Abstract

Digital labour is often reduced to microwork, granular tasks disassociated from a larger work project, and the labour market to serve these activities is distributed and largely unorganized as a collective body. Larger platform employers such as Amazon Mechanical Turk and Samasource have mobilised large pools of labour towards microtasks which, often, aggregate into a larger work process made opaque to the labour used to complete them. Some link this micowork to poverty alleviation suggesting the public good that might arise from such a workplace and larger industry reconfiguration. Yet, an important feature of microwork is a general placelessness that subverts labour and the communities from which this labour emerges.Education has largely aligned itself with this efficiency and microwork maxims in moves towards granular capacities that are both restrictive and empowering. In these contexts education is reduced to serving the granularization in work that automation and microwork has accelerated. Yet, there is a role for an education that embraces the ‘messy’ configurations of digital labour, one that provides a futures dimension and a critical capacity for redefining the futures of work. This chapter explores this microwork contexts and suggests several educational reconfigurations that might serve this critical capacity.