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Coming soon... The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction


I’m very happy to announce the first sharable details about my new forthcoming book (co-authored with Jamie Woodcock). The book will be out in November, but you can already pre-order it with a 20% discount using this form or the code GIG20 on the Polity Books website.

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction 

Jamie Woodcock & Mark Graham 

From the reviews: 

‘Challenging and important, giving voice to workers on the front line of our growing gig economy. A must read for trade unionists, policymakers and everyone with an interest in making work better amidst rapid tech change’. 

Frances O’Grady, TUC 

About the book: 

All of a sudden, everybody’s talking about the gig economy. From taxi drivers to pizza deliverers to the unemployed, we are all aware of the huge changes that it’s driving in our lives as workers, consumers and citizens. Drawing upon years of research, stories from gig workers, and a review of the key trends and debates, Jamie Woodcock and Mark Graham shed light on how the gig economy came to be, how it works and what it’s like to work in it. They show that, although it has facilitated innovatory new services and created jobs for millions, it is not without cost. It allows businesses and governments to generate value while passing significant risk and responsibility onto the workers that make it possible. This is not, however, an argument for turning the clock back. Instead, the authors outline four strategies that can produce a fairer gig economy that works for everyone. 

PUBLICATION DETAILS: November 2019 | Paper| ISBN 978-1-5095-3636-8 | £14.99| £11.99 with 20% off 

Society and the Internet: How Networks of Information and Communication are Changing Our Lives (second edition) now out!

I’m thrilled to announce that the second edition of Society and the Internet is now out!!

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The book has been fully updated since the first edition and contains new chapters on topics such as fake news, memes, digital health, and the platform economy. The volume contains 24 chapters from authors who speak from a diverse range of disciplinary perspectives: from sociology, geography, economics, and political science to law, computer science, and network science.

Society and the Internet aims to give readers a broad overview of existing scholarship in key areas (e.g. memes, fake news) whilst grounding those topics in primary and unique contributions from each author. Following a foreword by Manual Castells, we introduce some of the key issues in Internet Studies. The chapters are then organised into five focused sections: The Internet in Everyday Life; Digital Rights and Human Rights; Networked Ideas, Politics, and Governance; Networked Businesses, Industries, and Economics; and Technological and Regulatory Histories and Futures.

It was a pleasure getting to work with so many talented scholars, and with my wonderful co-editor and collaborator Bill Dutton. I hope you all enjoy the collection.

Society and the Internet. Table of Contents

Foreword, Manuel Castells

Introduction, William H. Dutton and Mark Graham

Part I: The Internet and Everyday Life

1: The Internet in Daily Life: The Turn to Networked Individualism, Lee Rainie and Barry Wellman

2: Internet Memes and the Twofold Articulation of Values, Limor Shifman

3: Internet Geographies: Data Shadows and Digital Divisions of Labor, Mark Graham, Sanna Ojanperä, and Martin Dittus

4: Internet Cultures and Digital Inequalities, Bianca C. Reisdorf, Grant Blank, and William H. Dutton

5: Older Adults on Digital Media in a Networked Society: Enhancing and Updating Social Connections, Anabel Quan-Haase, Renwen Zhang, Barry Wellman, and Hua Wang

6: Internet Skills and Why They Matter, Eszter Hargittai and Marina Micheli

Part II: Digital Rights, Human Rights

7: Gender and Race in the Gaming World, Lisa Nakamura

8: Data Protection in the Clouds, Christopher Millard

9: Building the Cybersecurity Capacity of Nations, Sadie Creese, Ruth Shillair, Maria Bada, and William H. Dutton

10: Big Data: Marx, Hayek, and Weber in a Data-Driven World, Ralph Schroeder

Part III: Networked Ideas, Politics, and Governance

11: Political Turbulence: How Social Media Shapes Collective Action, Helen Margetts, Scott Hale, and Peter John

12: Social Media and Democracy in Crisis, Philip N. Howard and Samantha Bradshaw

13: The Internet and Access to Information About Politics: Searching Through Filter Bubbles, Echo Chambers, and Disinformation, William H. Dutton, Bianca C. Reisdorf, Grant Blank, Elizabeth Dubois, and Laleah Fernandez

14: Digital News and the Consumption of Political Information, Silvia Majó-Vázquez and Sandra González-Bailón

Part IV: Networked Businesses, Industries, and Economics

15: The Internet at the Global Economic Margins, Mark Graham

16: The Political Economy of Digital Health, Gina Neff

17: The Platformization of Society and its Discontents, Antonio A. Casilli and Julian Posada

18: Scarcity of Attention for a Medium of Abundance: An Economic Perspective, Greg Taylor

19: Incentives to Share in the Digital Economy, Matthew David

Part V: Technological and Regulatory Histories and Futures

20: Three Phases in the Development of China's Network Society, Jack Linchuan Qiu

21: The Politics of Children's Internet Use, Victoria Nash

22: Looking Ahead at Internet Video and its Societal Impacts, Eli Noam

23: The Social Media Challenge to Internet Governance, Laura DeNardis

24: The Unfinished Work of the Internet, David Bray and Vinton Cerf

Towards a Fairer Gig Economy

Our second pamphlet ‘Towards a Fairer Gig Economy’ is now out on Meatspace Press. We are pleased to offer it for free download (pdf, epub, azw3, mobi), as a low-cost paperback, or for self-printing.

“Unions cannot collectively bargain with an algorithm, they can’t appeal to a platform, and they can’t negotiate with an equation.”

Dawn Gearhart from Teamsters Local 117

‘Towards a Fairer Gig Economy’ is a small collection of articles examining the social and economic problems associated with the ‘gig economy’. The gig economy includes a wide range of labour carried out by workers providing services as couriers, taxi drivers, online freelancers and more. Issues examined include an over-supply of labour, falling wages, long hours and poor working conditions. Each article makes suggestions for how these problems can be addressed and how a fairer gig economy can be built: including through regulation, collective bargaining and wider policy recommendations. The collection’s contributors include cycle couriers, union organisers, academics and researchers.

The collection is edited by Mark Graham and Joe Shaw, and its contributing authors are: Janine Berg, Christina Colclough, Mags Dewhurst, Dawn Gearhart, Philip Jennings, Guy McClenahan, Trebor Scholz, M. Six Silberman, Nick Srnicek and Valerio De Stefano.

Download it here: Graham, M and Shaw, J. (eds). 2017. Towards a Fairer Gig Economy. London: Meatspace Press.

'Digital Labour' - our new publication

New forms of digital work have emerged which, in theory, can be done from anywhere. Does this mean that geography no longer matters to digital work? Not exactly. My new chapter with Amir Anwar draws on our empirical research into digital labor to outline how geography still matters, and who it matters for in a world of increasingly digital work. The contemporary geography of digital labor can be used to exploit workers, but we also argue that it opens up distinct possibilities for digital workers to recreate their own worlds of work.

You can access a pre-publication version of the chapter below as well as a few paragraphs from the conclusions.

Graham, M. and Anwar, M.A. 2018. "Digital Labour" In: Digital Geographies Ash, J., Kitchin, R. and Leszczynski, A. (eds.). Sage. London.

Conclusions

The networking of the world has not rendered geography irrelevant - far from it. Clients now have access to a globally-dispersed pool of workers tethered to their homes because labor-power does still have to go home every night. This state of affairs presents a worrying and precarious situation for digital workers. In this chapter, we have argued that a spatial division of labor has been constructed in which digital labor is traded as a commodity at a global scale by placing workers into competition with one another in way that undermines the power of workers.

However, the geographic landscapes of digital labor that we see are not an inevitable outcome of the spread of digital technologies to every corner of the world. This chapter also argues that possibilities exist for what Herod (2001) refers to as ‘labor geographies’: spatial fixes created by and for workers that challenge the idea that atomized competition is an inevitability. Two very different ontologies – ‘digitally distinct space’ and ‘digitally augmented space’ - can be used to build those strategies.

This is not just an argument about semantics. Workers, unions, and regulators are all using outdated concepts to try and make sense of a contemporary world of work. If we are to build a fairer world of work, we are going to need new language and new concepts for networks, processes and organisations of digital labor, for strikes, for picket lines, and for coalitions of, and collaborations between, workers. These concepts will shape how we understand digital labor and how we envision ‘paths to the possible.’

Strategically deploying those spatial ontologies reveals sites at which the proactive geographical praxis of workers can reshape the geographies of labor. Workers do not necessarily need global campaigns to match the global reach of platforms and clients – instead, they need to understand the nodes at which the local can influence the non-local. Workers carry the power to dismiss the idea that digital labor represents a final hegemonic spatial fix in which they have no agency due to atomization and the commodification of work. Reconceptualizing the geographies of digital labor and digital labor geographies reveals remaining possibilities for collective action, for labor’s own spatial fixes, and for a reshaping of the very landscapes of digital work.