Uberworked and Underpaid: How Workers Are Disrupting the Digital Economy
December 2016, Polity
In this rich, accessible, and provocative book, Scholz exposes the uncaring reality of contingent digital work, which is thriving at the expense of employment and worker rights.
The book is meant to inspire readers to join the growing number of worker-owned "platform cooperatives," rethink unions, and build a better future of work. A call to action, loud and clear, Uberworked and Underpaid shows that it is time to stop wage theft and "crowd fleecing," rethink wealth distribution, and address the urgent question of how digital labor should be regulated and how workers from Berlin, Barcelona, Seattle, and São Paulo can act in solidarity to defend their rights.
Introduction: Why Digital Labor Now?
Chapter 1: Black Box Labor and the Creative Wrecking of Employment
Chapter 2: Play at Work
Chapter 3: Defining Digital Labor
Chapter 4: Crowd Fleecing
Chapter 5: On Motivations
i. Confronting the Legal Gray Zones of Digital Labor
ii. On Tactical Refusal, Defection, and Withdrawal from Data Labor
iii. Think Outside the Boss: Platform Cooperativism for the Sharing Economy
Zeynep Tufekci, writer at The New York Times, Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, professor The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Trebor Scholz has written a unsparing and bracing critique of platform capitalism. Moreover, he's developed a blueprint for transcending it: a tough-minded platform cooperativism that eschews the utopianism of sharing economy bromides. Anyone concerned about the future of work should read this book.
Frank Pasquale, author of The Black Box Society
Based on years of research and cooperation, Uberworked and Underpaid passionately and sharply tracks down the dark side of the sharing economy, that is the reduction of labor to a cheap and disposable commodity, without protections or benefits. Against such hyper-precarization, Scholz believes in the possibility of autonomous self-organization of digital work. Posing platform cooperativism against crowd fleecing and the on-demand service economy, Scholz's book is an invaluable contribution to a much needed reinvention of a socialism for the 21st century.
Tiziana Terranova, author of Network Culture. Politics for the Information Age
Scholz authoritatively and convincingly outlines how the sharing economy is set up to disempower workers in every segment of the economy; in every corner of the world. But this hopeful book shows us that our current path is far from inevitable. Platform cooperativism is about envisioning an alternative, and Scholz offers us a powerful roadmap to get us there.
Mark Graham, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Uberworked is not only a mesmerizing reveal of the Dickensian state of digital labor, but offers a visionary and human alternative: the platform cooperative. Scholz, a scholar-activist at the forefront of a movement to transform technologies of domination into tools of social justice, has produced its essential manifesto.
Juliet Schor, author of The Overworked American
"A valuable, accessible analysis."
Times Higher Education