We are all dividuals now. Algorithmic management in the gig economy

Platform companies like Uber and Deliveroo are often criticized for undercutting workers’ labour rights and bargaining position. By designating their workers as independent contractors and subjecting them to algorithmic management techniques, platform companies offload business costs and risks unto individual workers while evading the social safety nets that are designed to protect these workers. To tackle this decline of workers’ rights, governments and labour law scholars often propose to enforce employee status for platform workers, as evidenced in the recent EU Platform Work Directive. I argue that this approach fails to consider how platform workers are not only disadvantaged as individual rights-bearing citizens but also as “dividual assemblages” of data and information. French philosopher Gilles Deleuze introduced the term “dividual” to grasp how people are increasingly disassembled into bits and pieces of information that can be analyzed and reconfigured via algorithmic decision-making. The latter does not target individual workers but rather groups all workers together in a large database, which it subsequently uses to pursue company interests at workers’ expense. While the Platform Work Directive captures the harms committed unto individual workers, it fails to address the problems faced by the dividual assemblage of platform workers.


Tim Christiaens

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Digital Humanities Tilburg