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[Commlist] CFP - Log Out! 2: Workers Confronting Digital Capitalism, International Conference, Toronto

Fri Oct 25 16:54:52 GMT 2019

Call for papers
Log Out! 2: Workers Confronting Digital Capitalism
International Conference, Toronto
March 13, 2020

SUBMIT: An extended abstract in English (500 words) and short biography (max 200 words)
CONTACT: Julie Yujie Chen at (julieyj.chen /at/
DEADLINE: November 29, 2019

Digital capitalism is a terrain of intensifying social conflict. Work is increasingly shaped by technologies such as platforms and algorithmic systems, which standardize and reorganize the labour process, incorporate managerial tasks, and devise new forms of value generation. By decomposing or outsourcing jobs, technologies are being used to make workers increasingly replaceable. New surveillance techniques are used to control and discipline workers, and new forms of despotism in the digital workplace are on the rise. But workers don’t passively obey the rules of the digital economy. In recent years, repertoires of tactics inherited from the industrial era have been revived, adapted, and extended by digital workers to fuel new struggles in the contemporary economy. Look no further than drivers in the ride-hailing industry in the streets of the world, domestic workers and freelancers in North America and Asia, food-delivery couriers in Europe and Canada, warehouse workers in urban peripheries across the globe, software engineers from China to California, and game designers and other digital media workers in cities across North America.

The ubiquitous penetration of digital technologies in warehouses, workshops, offices, and app-based workplaces is met with novel workarounds and solidarity-building techniques. Both overt organizing and covert resistance connect workers in traditional sectors like hospitality as well as in booming industries such as logistics, online crowdwork, or the urban gig economy. Scholars from multiple disciplines and labour activists have started to shape the debate around digital worker struggle, but questions remain: What are the new challenges and potentials brought about by the new wave of autonomous decision-making technologies? Which new forms of class composition boost solidarity and organizing in the digitally-mediated work environment? What roles do technologies, cultures, geographies, and infrastructures play in worker organizations? How can tactical media be deployed towards workers’ goals? How do workers log out from or subvert digital labour?

Building on the success of the 2018 edition, Log Out! 2 brings together critical research on how workers from different sectors of digital capitalism across the world confront, negotiate, and disrupt the technologically-mediated conditions of work that structure and mediate their lives. We are interested in both empirical and theoretical contributions that address worker organizing and unionization, strikes, work refusal, algorithm hacking, tactical interventions, as well as the material and political economic components of resistance. Worker knowledge is critical to understanding labour politics: we welcome contributions from members of worker collectives and labour unions.

Log Out! 2 is funded by the McLuhan Centre for Culture and Technology and organized by the McLuhan Centre working group on digital labour. It will take place at the University of Toronto on March 13, 2020.

Confirmed speakers include Jack Linchuan Qiu (The Chinese University of Hong Kong) and Sareeta Amrute (University of Washington and Data & Society). The conference will also host a roundtable of worker-led organizations, including Foodsters United, Game Workers Unite!, VICE Canada Union, and more to be confirmed.

​Results will be announced in mid-December 2019. Limited funding for travel and accommodation will be made available for selected speakers, with a preference for students, workers, independent or precarious scholars, and speakers from the Global South. In your application please indicate if you need financial support.

The organizing committee for Log Out! 2 is composed of Julie Yujie Chen, Nicole Cohen, Alessandro Delfanti, Greig de Peuter, Julian Posada, Brendan Smith.

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