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Abstract Guy Standing

The Precariat in Platform Capitalism

The combination of globalisation, neo-liberal economic policies and an ongoing technological revolution is generating a global labour market and producing a global class structure in which the precariat is the growing mass class. After defining the precariat, this presentation will consider how app-driven platform capitalism, and the growing use of AI and more sophisticated robots, is dragging millions more into the precariat through three distinctive forms of labour relation. These may be called, first, the concierge economy, second, cloud labour, and third, zero-hour or on-call employment. Each are facing growing economic and social insecurity, but in different ways, and each will be affected by the advance of robotization, including a new phenomenon, heteromation.

The presentation will argue that the platform corporations are essentially labour brokers, or rentiers, and that their business practices are transforming labour and work, while accentuating income inequality and pervasive economic insecurity. It will conclude with some policy recommendations that have yet to be presented by politicians of either right or left.