When innovation meets apathy: Transforming work through the platform business model

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The worldwide proliferation of platform mediated work in the past decade -be this remote online or geographically tethered gig-work- has produced a growing body of literature on the gig-economy and the future of work. The digitalization of the workplace and its algorithmic management have been a common research focus for both supporters and critics of this organizational model (Parker et al. 2016, Wood et al. 2019). This paper claims that it is not only the affordances of digital platforms that reshape work due to e.g., the performativity of rating systems, the complexity of opaque algorithms and the “workforce-as-a-service” model (van Doorn 2017). Investigating the employment practices deriving from platform work, the paper draws on empirical fieldwork on housecleaning platforms in Denmark to claim the existence of a trilateral sustainment of apathy towards technology-driven shifts in traditional employment relations. First, platform housecleaners are working without challenging the ills of their employment (lack of pension schemes, holiday pay, entitlement to benefits etc.), apathetically enduring the way the platform economy has been imposed on the labor market. Second, the Danish state and stakeholders have demonstrated an apathetic behavior towards swiftly regulating the platform labor market and aligning it to the Danish business model. Third, customers using platform housecleaning are usually indifferent as to how such low prices are available to them. This paper aspires to empirically trace the generators of this trilateral apathy which sustains underprivileged employment conditions for platform housecleaners and conceptualize apathy (cf. Lertzman 2013) as a driving force for the establishment of the platform business model. Studying platform-related labor transformations through the lens of apathy can enhance the understanding of their derivation by avoiding the pitfall of technological determinism.

van Doorn, N. (2017). Platform labor: On the gendered and racialized exploitation of low-income service work in the ‘on-demand’ economy. Information, Communication & Society, 20(6), 898–914.
Lertzman, R. A. (2013). The myth of apathy: Psychoanalytic explorations of environmental subjectivity. In Engaging with Climate Change (pp. 139-165). Routledge.
Parker, G. G., Van Alstyne, M. W., & Choudary, S. P. (2016). Platform revolution: How networked markets are transforming the economy and how to make them work for you. WW Norton & Company.
Wood, A. J., Graham, M., Lehdonvirta, V., & Hjorth, I. (2019). Good Gig, Bad Gig: Autonomy and Algorithmic Control in the Global Gig Economy. Work, Employment and Society, 33(1), 56–75.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date7 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2022
EventEASST 2022: Politics of Technoscientific Futures - IFEMA North Convention Center, Madrid, Spain
Duration: 6 Jul 20229 Jul 2022


ConferenceEASST 2022
LocationIFEMA North Convention Center
Internet address


  • platforms
  • platform economy
  • apathy
  • policymaking
  • Denmark


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