Upwork at Work: Labor as a Service
Whereas platforms such as Uber and Airbnb are often in the spotlights, similar companies transform other segments of the so-called platform society. Amidst competing platforms, accusations and legal issues as result of platform capitalism, scholars and companies look for new propositions to deal with revolutionary technology, the transformation of conventional industries and a need for cooperativism. When it comes to labor, this paper argues how a platform such as Upwork is a transforming actor for how labor should be understood nowadays. By reusing theories of Karl Marx in combination with recent works of José van Dijck, Henry Jenkins and Trebor Scholz, a theoretical foundation is built to facilitate a starting point for a new kind of platform analysis. Based on two existing approaches, the Upwork platform is analyzed from detailed technocultural and socioeconomic perspectives on the one hand and overarching platform mechanisms on the other. The situation of an exponential growing online marketplace, where companies come to offer jobs to freelancers and where freelancers offer their experience and skills, a new type of working activity seems to stabilize: labor as a service.
Keywords: Capitalism, Cooperativism, Labor, Mechanisms, Platform Analysis, Upwork