McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology

39A Queens Park Crescent East

Toronto, Ontario

M5S 3C3

416.978.7026

The Centre is open to the public during events, or by appointment only.

 

Parking is available off 121 St. Joseph Street

 

The building is not currently barrier-free.

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CALL FOR PAPERS

Log Out! 2: Workers Confronting Digital Capitalism

International Conference, Toronto

March 13, 2020

 

SUBMIT: An extended abstract in English (500 words) and short biography (max 200 words)

CONTACT: Julie Yujie Chen at julieyj.chen@utoronto.ca

DEADLINE: November 29, 2019

 

Digital capitalism is a terrain of intensifying social conflict. Work is increasingly shaped by technologies such as platforms and algorithmic systems, which standardize and reorganize the labour process, incorporate managerial tasks, and devise new forms of value generation. By decomposing or outsourcing jobs, technologies are being used to make workers increasingly replaceable. New surveillance techniques are used to control and discipline workers, and new forms of despotism in the digital workplace are on the rise. But workers don’t passively obey the rules of the digital economy. In recent years, repertoires of tactics inherited from the industrial era have been revived, adapted, and extended by digital workers to fuel new struggles in the contemporary economy. Look no further than drivers in the ride-hailing industry in the streets of the world, domestic workers and freelancers in North America and Asia, food-delivery couriers in Europe and Canada, warehouse workers in urban peripheries across the globe, software engineers from China to California, and game designers and other digital media workers in cities across North America. 

 

The ubiquitous penetration of digital technologies in warehouses, workshops, offices, and app-based workplaces is met with novel workarounds and solidarity-building techniques. Both overt organizing and covert resistance connect workers in traditional sectors like hospitality as well as in booming industries such as logistics, online crowdwork, or the urban gig economy. Scholars from multiple disciplines and labour activists have started to shape the debate around digital worker struggle, but questions remain: What are the new challenges and potentials brought about by the new wave of autonomous decision-making technologies? Which new forms of class composition boost solidarity and organizing in the digitally-mediated work environment? What roles do technologies, cultures, geographies, and infrastructures play in worker organizations? How can tactical media be deployed towards workers’ goals? How do workers log out from or subvert digital labour?

 

Building on the success of the 2018 edition, Log Out! 2 brings together critical research on how workers from different sectors of digital capitalism across the world confront, negotiate, and disrupt the technologically-mediated conditions of work that structure and mediate their lives. We are interested in both empirical and theoretical contributions that address worker organizing and unionization, strikes, work refusal, algorithm hacking, tactical interventions, as well as the material and political economic components of resistance. Worker knowledge is critical to understanding labour politics: we welcome contributions from members of worker collectives and labour unions. 

 

Log Out! 2 is funded by the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology and organized by the McLuhan Centre working group on digital labour. It will take place at the University of Toronto on March 13, 2020.

 

Confirmed speakers include Jack Linchuan Qiu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Sareeta Amrute (University of Washington and Data & Society). The conference will also host a roundtable of worker-led organizations, including Foodsters United, Game Workers Unite!, VICE Canada Union, and more to be confirmed.

 

​Results will be announced in mid-December 2019. Limited funding for travel and accommodation will be made available for selected speakers, with a preference for students, workers, independent or precarious scholars, and speakers from the Global South. In your application please indicate if you need financial support.

 

The organizing committee for Log Out! 2 is composed of Julie Yujie Chen, Nicole Cohen, Alessandro Delfanti, Greig de Peuter, Julian Posada, Brendan Smith.

LOG OUT!

Worker Resistance Within and Against the Platform Economy

March 6, 2018


A full day conference held at the Faculty of Information and co-sponsored by the Institute of Communication, Culture, Information, and Technology and the University of Toronto Mississauga.

 

The conference focused on the role of digital technologies in re-organizing labour processes and emerging forms of worker resistance. Uber, Deliveroo, Amazon, Instagram, and many other platform-based corporations are experiencing worker refusal, unionization, organizing and struggle. While technology is used to intensify and subdue labour, it is also constantly met with resistance from workers who challenge the casualized and precarious work conditions of the digital economy.

NEW: Notes from Below Special Issue

 

PROGRAM

OPENING REMARKS

Sarah Sharma [McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology] +

Alessandro Delfanti [University of Toronto]

The Fairwork Foundation: Strategies for Online Platform Work

Jamie Woodcock [University of Oxford]


Platform Organizing: Digital Tools for Labour Recomposition

Enda Brophy + Seamus Grayer [Simon Fraser University)]

The Warehouse without Walls: A Workers’ Inquiry at Deliveroo

Callum Cant [University of West London]

When the Crowd Resists: mTurk Worker Struggles Against Amazon

Kristy Milland [McMaster University and TurkerNation]
 

Labour Against the Machine. Control and Conflict in E-commerce Warehouses
Alessandro Delfanti [University of Toronto]

 

“Can A Single Spark Start a Prairie Fire?” Connect the Dots in the Chinese Platform

Workers’ Tactics of Resistance

Julie Yujie Chen [University of Leicester]
 

Influencer Comment Pods as Co-operative Algorithm Hacking: Resistance Within

and Against Instagram Platform Labour

Victoria O’Meara [Western University]
 

Workers’ Inquiry among Silicon Valley Tech Workers

Tech Workers Coalition

Fighting White Power with Worker Power: Organizing and Visibility in Silicon Valley

Tamara Kneese [University of San Francisco]

 

FINAL ROUNDTABLE
Nick Dyer-Witheford [Western University]
Alessandro Gandini [King’s College]
Lilly Irani [University of California San Diego]
Kristy Milland [McMaster University and TurkerNation]
Moderator: Greig de Peuter [Wilfrid Laurier University]

ORGANIZING COMMITTEE

Brett Caraway, Nicole Cohen, Alessandro Delfanti, Karen McEwen, David Nieborg,

Rianka Singh + Madison Trusolino

​PRESS

Disrupting the disruptors: U of T event looks at worker resistance in companies

like Uber, Amazon UofT News (March 2018)