Digital “Putting-out System”—an Old New Method of Work in Platform Economy
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University of Gdańsk
Publication date: 2020-10-07
Polish Sociological Review 2020;211(3):265-280
The platform economy—a phenomenon attracting public and academic attention alike—is perceived as a tremendous novelty. The Internet and other IT technologies that bring such platforms alive are said to determine their innovative and modern label. This paper argues otherwise. The role of information infrastructure cannot be properly analysed without discovering the content of labour relations behind it. From the perspective of this paper, the latter is similar to the historical putting-out system. The system that arose in the 18th century and whose participants came from the ranks of formally free, home base labour was strikingly congruous with the modern work-on-demand system. The paper analyzes the features of the contemporary gig economy and points out similarities and differences between the historical putting-out system and its digital incarnation. In conclusion, the paper makes some predictions regarding work on platforms.
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