Brussels, Belgium

From Uber to Amazon Mechanical Turk: non­traditional labour markets driven by technological and organisational change

when 23 November 2015 - 25 July 2015
duration -17 week

General information

Technology is a powerful driver for change in the world of labour. The objective of the third edition of the InGRID winter school is to aggregate scholars and policy-makers interested in two recent but rapidly growing phenomena: the sharing econ­omy and crowdsourcing. More specifically, we are interested in the labour aspects of these innovation: Do they lead to a growth in the share of free-lance workers? What are the working conditions of crowdsourced workers? Do we need to adapt our definitions of labour to fit these new challenges? Do we observe a blurring of the borders between work and leisure in the sharing economy?

Given the limited knowledge on these questions, we are open to accepting differ­ent types of contributions: from theoretical work, even model­based, to more empirical analysis, based for instance on surveys. We expect applications from a broad range of disciplines: from big-data analysts to political scientists, from economists to sociolo­gists.
Lectures and topics
The sharing economy

Innovations like Uber and AirB&B are stirring up heated debates. These innovations, which some consider ‘disruptive’, can be analysed from many different angles: Who benefits from them? Who loses? Do they challenge our definitions of labour? Do they support or counteract the generalised trend in society towards inequality? In this session we would like to ask the pioneers of this new literature in the field of labour studies to share their views on the subject. We also welcome the view of policymakers who find themselves in the position of giving answers to these issues with very little backup from the research community.
Crowdsourcing and contests

Crowdsourcing constitutes a cheap and quicker option for outsourcing, but the phenomenon has much broader ramifications. The definition of crowdsourcing can be wide and includes experiments like Wikipedia, where the construction of an encyclopaedia is in the hands of the ‘crowd’. Here we restrict the focus to crowdsourcing of paid labour, which gives the possibility to assign a specific task – ranging from coding a web programme, to a translation or a data collection – to a worker in an unspecified location. In this session, we would like to understand the labour implications of the phe­nomenon, for workers in this new sector as well as for the incumbents of the traditional mar­kets.
Are we all going to end up self-employed?

Self-employment makes a considerable contribution to the EU economy in terms of entrepreneur­ship and job creation. In 2014 the population of self-employed (without employees) counted almost 22 million individuals, equivalent to 9% of the European labour force. Self­employment carries a degree of risk and vulnerability for the individual, both in the short and long run. Countries like Italy, Greece and Spain have the highest rates of self­employment in Europe.

Can one point to evidence in the last few years or decades of an increase of such labour market arrangements? Are work experiences becoming shorter? Are they driven by technology or by insti­tutional factors? Is the ‘one job for a lifetime’ really over? In this session, the speakers will shed light on the drivers contributing to the recent growth in self-employment and the consequences that need to be addressed by policy-makers.
Employment and technological change

Technological developments, from big data to cloud computing, have fundamentally changed the workplace. Nevertheless, the extent to which workers participate in these changes varies immensely from one situation to another. The trend towards specialisation has the effect of increasingly frag­menting the workplace, sometimes replicating the power relationships observed in the ‘Fordist’ econ­omy of previous generations, but magnified by the pressure towards new forms of work organisation. The increased specialisation also means that the useful knowledge, vital for mastering the new tech­nologies is concentrated within a few privileged individuals, while the majority are reduced to the status of easily replaceable workers.

Course leader

CEPS, Brussels

Target group

Who can apply?

The winter school is aimed at policy makers and practitioners, PhD students and early-stage research­ers.

Policy-makers and practioners should:

have experience or interest in challenges related to the topics of the winter school and;
be prepared to present a policy report or discuss how and why inequality matters/does not mat­ter in their policy programme.

Researchers should:

be enrolled in a PhD programme, or have completed a PhD or hold a post­doctoral fellow­ship;
have experience or an interest in undertaking interdisciplinary research on social inclusion and inequality and;
be prepared to present a paper or poster during the event.

Candidates for the winter school should complete the online application form before 15 September 2015, including a short motivation note. Participants coming from academia are also expected to submit the abstract of a paper or research task related to inequality and social mobility. In case of policy-makers and practioners, applicants will be asked to send an abstract or a short presentation of a report/policy programme they are willing to pre­sent.

Applications will be evaluated by CEPS, Stockholm University and HIVA­KU Leuven. Candi­dates will be informed whether or not they have been accepted to this session of the InGRID winter school no later than 9 Octobre 2015.

Participation to the school is free of charge, and participants may be eligible for reimbursement of travel and subsistence costs. More information is available here.

Participants are expected to attend the full length of the event. Participation is subject to InGRID’s terms and conditions for InGRID summer/autumn/winter schools.

Credits info

No credits

Fee info

EUR 0: No fee - travel reimbursement and reimbursement of accomodation costs