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Platforms at Work: Automated Hiring Platforms and Other New Intermediaries in the Organization of Work

Work and Labor in the Digital Age

ISBN: 978-1-78973-586-4, eISBN: 978-1-78973-585-7

Publication date: 4 July 2019


This chapter lays out a research agenda in the sociology of work for a type of data and organizational intermediary: work platforms. As an example, the authors employ a case study of the adoption of automated hiring platforms (AHPs) in which the authors distinguish between promises and existing practices. The authors draw on two main methods to do so: critical discourse analysis and affordance critique. The authors collected and examined a mix of trade, popular press, and corporate archives; 135 texts in total. The analysis reveals that work platforms offer five core affordances to management: (1) structured data fields optimized for capture and portability within organizations; (2) increased legibility of activity qua data captured inside and outside the workplace; (3) information asymmetry between labor and management; (4) an “ecosystem” design that supports the development of limited-use applications for specific domains; and (5) the standardization of managerial techniques between workplaces. These combine to create a managerial frame for workers as fungible human capital, available on demand and easily ported between job tasks and organizations. While outlining the origin of platform studies within media and communication studies, the authors demonstrate the specific tools the sociology of work brings to the study of platforms within the workplace. The authors conclude by suggesting avenues for future sociological research not only on hiring platforms, but also on other work platforms such as those supporting automated scheduling and customer relationship management.



Ajunwa, I. and Greene, D. (2019), "Platforms at Work: Automated Hiring Platforms and Other New Intermediaries in the Organization of Work", Vallas, S.P. and Kovalainen, A. (Ed.) Work and Labor in the Digital Age (Research in the Sociology of Work, Vol. 33), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 61-91.



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