Last month, Dissent hosted two panels at Left Forum in New York City, moderated by Belabored co-hosts Michelle Chen and Sarah Jaffe. Listen to both panels below.
We apologize for any glitches in audio quality.
Cloud Labor: Working in the Digital Economy
Social media companies seemingly offer free services that allow users to interact and express themselves, while their business models depend on generating revenues from the free work these users put into their platforms. Other new technology companies look to the Internet as a marketplace for a crowdsourced, amateur, contracted labor pool that is underpaid and unregulated. Both of these trends are part of a digital economy where the boundary between labor and play is blurred, where increased “flexibility” and room for creativity are the price for exploitation, and where women often perform the majority of the work. Under these conditions, how can “users” reimagine the content they produce as a source of value? Will this kind of work reinforce gender, racial, and class disparities? How can a dispersed workforce undertake collective action, and can online platforms themselves serve as tools for organizing digital labor?
Chair: Sarah Jaffe
Speakers: Melissa Gira Grant, Sydette Harry, and Moshe Marvit
Relevant readings: Melissa Gira Grant, “For the Love of Kink” (Dissent, Spring 2014); Sydette Harry, “Attacking the Stream” (Dissent online, April 2014); Moshe Marvit, “How Crowdworkers Became Ghosts in the Digital Machine” (The Nation, February 4, 2014)
Working in Fear: Deportation and Immigrant Labor in the Obama Age
Having overseen close to two million deportations since 2008, the Obama administration is on track to “remove” more undocumented immigrants than any other administration in U.S. history. How does the constant threat of deportation affect immigrants who are struggling to make a living in the United States? This panel will bring together a journalist, an anthropologist, and two activists to examine how immigration enforcement policies shape migration patterns and working conditions, exposing immigrants to abuses including human trafficking and forced labor. What we can do to end the deportation regime and achieve justice for immigrant workers?
Chair: Michelle Chen
Speakers: Denise Brennan, Daniel Coates, and Abraham Paulos
Relevant readings: Denise Brennan, “Migrants At Risk: How U.S. Policies Facilitate Human Trafficking” (Dissent online, March 2014); Michelle Chen, “Invisible Immigrants” (Dissent online, April 2013)