Between automation and gamification: forms of labour control on crowdwork platforms

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  • 1 WZB Berlin Social Science Center Reichpietschufer, , Germany
  • | 2 Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, , Germany
  • | 3 Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, , Germany
  • | 4 WZB Berlin Social Science Center, , Germany
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Algorithmic management is a core concept to analyse labour control on online labour platforms. It runs the risk, however, of oversimplifying the existing variety and complexity of control forms. In order to provide a basis for further research, this article develops a typology of labour control forms within crowdwork and discusses how they influence perceptions of working conditions. It identifies the two most relevant forms of labour control in crowdwork: direct control mainly takes the form of automated output control, while indirect control aiming at creating motivation and commitment is mainly exerted through ranking and reputation systems (gamification). The article shows that these forms of control and their combination are linked with very different ways of how platform workers perceive working conditions on platforms. In addition, the analysis shows significant differences regarding the perception of working conditions between those who work on platforms in addition to a regular employment as opposed to those who are self-employed and rely more strongly, if not fully, on their income from platform work. The analysis is based on qualitative and quantitative research on crowdwork platforms. In particular, it builds on an online survey conducted with 1,131 crowdworkers active on different types of platforms.

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  • 1 WZB Berlin Social Science Center Reichpietschufer, , Germany
  • | 2 Weizenbaum Institute for the Networked Society, , Germany
  • | 3 Helmut Schmidt University Hamburg, , Germany
  • | 4 WZB Berlin Social Science Center, , Germany

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