Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

Law and Political Economy

(None). Law and Political Economy. .

No terms yet!
technology and political economy
In the meantime, the most intensive efforts to promote an...
technology's power in structuring social relations
But the driving assumption was that (a) contrary to both ...
technology is the subject and site of politics
[...] technology develops as a function of institutional ...
those of us working on technology and inequality
This intellectual state of affairs leaves those of us wor...
workers’ wages across the Uber-taxi divide
Today, workers’ wages across the Uber-taxi divide are rou...

1. The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 1
July 25, 2018

from my tech news roundup:

This is a really excellent meditation on two contrasting perspectives on the role that technology plays in rising inequality. First, we have the mainstream approach, nicely summarised by the concept of skills-biased technological change: assuming “reasonably efficient markets”, technology stratifies workers by technological skill, and allows those who are more productive to reap more of the rewards. The critical approach, on the other hand, sees markets as always “pervaded by power”, and thus skewed in ways that are never neutral; technology is always deployed on uneven terrain, and its effects can only be properly understand by looking at bargaining power and class interests.

This blog post is essentially an exegesis of the first approach, and it’s well worth reading to understand 1) why the mainstream view is so popular; and 2) what that view is missing. Summarised neatly in the last paragraph:

So, the fundamental problem of the leading mainstream view is that it takes both markets and technology as having a more-or-less natural and necessary shape, and fails to see how institutions shape both markets and technology in ways that can reinforce or moderate patterns of inequality.

0 / 3
1

The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 1

from my tech news roundup:

This is a really excellent meditation on two contrasting perspectives on the role that technology plays in rising inequality. First, we have the mainstream approach, nicely summarised by the concept of skills-biased technological change: assuming “reasonably efficient markets”, technology stratifies workers by technological skill, and allows those who are more productive to reap more of the rewards. The critical approach, on the other hand, sees markets as always “pervaded by power”, and thus skewed in ways that are never neutral; technology is always deployed on uneven terrain, and its effects can only be properly understand by looking at bargaining power and class interests.

This blog post is essentially an exegesis of the first approach, and it’s well worth reading to understand 1) why the mainstream view is so popular; and 2) what that view is missing. Summarised neatly in the last paragraph:

So, the fundamental problem of the leading mainstream view is that it takes both markets and technology as having a more-or-less natural and necessary shape, and fails to see how institutions shape both markets and technology in ways that can reinforce or moderate patterns of inequality.

0 / 3

Worker Surveillance and Class Power
July 11, 2018

Really thoughtful piece by a law professor on how new technologies for surveilling workers are used to disempower workers as a class, with some examples drawn from Uber. The point of monitoring technologies is, of course, to rinse out so-called “inefficiencies”: to “push workers to perform harder, faster, and for less”. Data gathered from constant surveillance builds a map of how workers are using their time, which is then used to “squeeze out nearly all downtime”. This has implications for the traditional view of the nature of the “firm”, drawing from economist Ronald Coase’s work on transaction costs:

In a Coasean approach, the challenge of monitoring workers outside the firm may be a transaction cost that encourages the firm to bring them inside as employees […] Yet where firms can develop near-perfect knowledge about workers’ performance, the calculus changes.

What this implies is that ever-improving technology for monitoring and disciplining workers shifts the contract-vs-employee balance, incentivising firms to outsource/offshore work as long as they can still guarantee an acceptable degree of efficiency/productivity. This definitely corresponds to what we’re seeing with the gig economy - not just the more visible manifestations (Uber, Deliveroo), but the increasingly global chain of gig workers whose efforts are mediated and accordingly surveilled by platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk who, of course, retain most of the power.

Rogers ends by suggesting that countering this trend requires building power from below, rather than merely trying to play regulatory catch-up:

[…] a strategy of worker empowerment and deliberative governance rather than command-and-control regulation […] new forms of unionization and collective bargaining could address the everyday invasions of privacy or erosions of autonomy that arise through technological monitoring. […] Workers could also be woven into state and federal policy-making in a more sustained fashion. They could be guaranteed seats on new administrative boards established to consider responses to technological change, for example, or given a formal role in a more robust industrial policy that aims to create high-skill jobs and to train workers to take them on.

0 / 2
1

Worker Surveillance and Class Power

Really thoughtful piece by a law professor on how new technologies for surveilling workers are used to disempower workers as a class, with some examples drawn from Uber. The point of monitoring technologies is, of course, to rinse out so-called “inefficiencies”: to “push workers to perform harder, faster, and for less”. Data gathered from constant surveillance builds a map of how workers are using their time, which is then used to “squeeze out nearly all downtime”. This has implications for the traditional view of the nature of the “firm”, drawing from economist Ronald Coase’s work on transaction costs:

In a Coasean approach, the challenge of monitoring workers outside the firm may be a transaction cost that encourages the firm to bring them inside as employees […] Yet where firms can develop near-perfect knowledge about workers’ performance, the calculus changes.

What this implies is that ever-improving technology for monitoring and disciplining workers shifts the contract-vs-employee balance, incentivising firms to outsource/offshore work as long as they can still guarantee an acceptable degree of efficiency/productivity. This definitely corresponds to what we’re seeing with the gig economy - not just the more visible manifestations (Uber, Deliveroo), but the increasingly global chain of gig workers whose efforts are mediated and accordingly surveilled by platforms like Amazon Mechanical Turk who, of course, retain most of the power.

Rogers ends by suggesting that countering this trend requires building power from below, rather than merely trying to play regulatory catch-up:

[…] a strategy of worker empowerment and deliberative governance rather than command-and-control regulation […] new forms of unionization and collective bargaining could address the everyday invasions of privacy or erosions of autonomy that arise through technological monitoring. […] Workers could also be woven into state and federal policy-making in a more sustained fashion. They could be guaranteed seats on new administrative boards established to consider responses to technological change, for example, or given a formal role in a more robust industrial policy that aims to create high-skill jobs and to train workers to take them on.

0 / 2

The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 2
July 26, 2018

lamenting how tech is either treated too optimistically, or ignored (by left-leaning academics)

0 / 3
1

The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 2

lamenting how tech is either treated too optimistically, or ignored (by left-leaning academics)

0 / 3

The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 3
July 28, 2018

really long overview of why it's important to understand the intersection of tech & pol econ. touches on DSA and the new american left lacking a coherent explanation of capitalism

0 / 1
1

The Role of Technology in Political Economy: Part 3

really long overview of why it's important to understand the intersection of tech & pol econ. touches on DSA and the new american left lacking a coherent explanation of capitalism

0 / 1