Andrey V. Shevchuk

HSE, Moscow, Russia

The sociology of work paid close attention to the factory and office as the physical and social space where the labor process was directly carried out and where workers faced managerial supervision, control, and power. The article discusses new decentralized forms of labor organization based on digital platforms which connect self-employed workers with clients and customers. The rapid spread of platforms in many spheres of the economy (from the IT sector and creative industries to consumer services, taxi services, and delivery) puts the task of rethinking the concepts of labor sociology, labor legislation and social policy models on the agenda. Generally, organizational decentralization was discussed in the context of increasing the autonomy of workers. However, information and communication technologies made possible not only the effective coordination of dispersed workers, but also tight algorithmic control. Workers who are outside the enterprise, both physically and legally, nevertheless experience a strong influence of digital platforms on the key conditions of their work and employment. The article discusses the nature and types of digital work platforms, sources of platform power, forms of algorithmic management, the role of user ratings, as well as the possible regulation of platform employment. The author conceptualizes the problems of labor autonomy and control
within the typology of platforms: marketplace vs. shadow corporation.
Keywords: sociology of work and employment, digital platforms, gig economy, self-employment, work autonomy, algorithmic management