The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts
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Quantified Workers in Precarity

by Phoebe Moore on August 18, 2017
Blog

Conference on Quantified Workers in Precarity and Two Book Launches

Friday 13 October 2017. Sign up for a ticket on Eventbrite

Dr Phoebe Moore p.moore@mdx.ac.uk , organised with Christiana Rose c.rose@ mdx.ac.uk, School of Law, Middlesex University

Final event for Dr Moore’s British Academy/Leverhulme project ‘Agility, Work and the Quantified Self’. Funded by BA/Leverhulme and Conference of Socialist Economists.

We will be launching Humans and machines at work: monitoring, surveillance and automation in contemporary capitalism (Springer Palgrave, Dynamics of Virtual Work series co-edited with Martin Upchurch and Xanthe Whittaker) and Phoebe Moore’s monograph The Quantified Self at Work, in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts (Routledge, Advances in Sociology).

Like earlier forms of capitalism which taught workers to act like machines, the current wave of digitalised work, which includes tracking technologies, automation and surveillance, means that we work with and alongside machines and have even started to think like computers and to compete against them. Machines largely self-manage, do not complain, do not call in sick and do not make mistakes, but humans do all of these things.

Quantification, datafication and platformisation of work via new technologies introduce unprecedented possibilities for stress and a range of symptoms emerging from psychosocial violence (also tracked).

The precarity of the modern worker is central to understanding the quantified self at work.

Precarity is the purest form of alienation where the worker loses all personal association with the labour she performs. She is dispossessed and location-less in her working life and all value is extracted from her in every aspect of life. Because precarious workers are constantly chasing the next ‘gig’, spatial and temporal consistency in life is largely out of reach.

Capital encourages universal communication and machinic devices appear to facilitate this communication within precarious conditions: but only in quantified terms. Thus, anything that cannot be quantified and profiled is rendered incommunicable – meaning it is marked and marginalized, disqualified as human capital, denied privilege, and precarious (Moore and Robinson 2015). Workers are compelled to squeeze every drop of labour-power from our bodies, including work that is seen, or work that has always been measured in Taylorist regimes; and increasingly, work that is unseen, such as attitudes, sentiments, affective and emotional labour.

What are the impacts of technological change and precarity on workers? What are we doing about it?

Keynote Speakers

Dr Phoebe Moore ‘The Quantified Self at Work, in Precarity’

Prof Rosalind Gill ‘The Quantified Selves of Academia’

Prof Martin Upchurch ‘Is a Robot after your Job?’

Plenary Panels and Roundtable: Penny Andrews, Dr Ruth Cain, Dr Julie Yujie Chen, Dr John Danaher, Dr Alessandro Gandini, Dr Kylie Jarrett, Dr Mayo Fuster Morell, Dr Winifred Poster, Dr Ian Roper, Dr Stephen Shukaitis, Dr Christopher Till, Xanthe Williams.

This event marks the end of Principle Investigator Dr Phoebe Moore’s BA/Leverhulme project ‘Agility, Work and the Quantified Self’. Project co-investigators are Dr Ian Roper and Dr Lukasz Piwek.

Book Launch books:

Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts by Phoebe Moore (Routledge Advances in Sociology)

Humans and machines at work: monitoring, surveillance and automation in contemporary capitalism edited by Phoebe Moore, Martin Upchurch, Xanthe Whittaker (Palgrave Dynamics of Virtual Work)

Phoebe Moore

Dr Phoebe Moore is an active researcher and a Senior Lecturer in International Relations and International Political Economy at Middlesex University, London in the Department of Law and Politics. Dr Moore has written several books and articles on labour struggle and the impact of technology on working lives. Moore recently won a British Academy/Leverhulme award (2015-17) to research the use of self-tracking health devices in companies. This cutting edge project is ‘Agility, Work and the Quantified Self’. She is lead Social Scientist researching the project The Quantified Workplace at a company in the Netherlands. Moore is primarily interested in how technology is transforming our work and labour and has recently published the single-authored monograph The Quantified Self in Precarity: Work, Technology and What Counts (Routledge, 2017) and a co-edited volume (with Martin Upchurch and Xanthe Whittaker) entitled Humans and Machines at Work: Monitoring, Surveillance and Automation in Contemporary Capitalism (Palgrave, 2018). Moore is also working with the International Labour Organisation looking at the risks of psychosocial violence and harassment for workers posed by new technologies at work.

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