Data & Society is seeking two Researchers for their Social Instabilities in Labor Futures Initiative.
About Data & Society
Founded in 2013, Data & Society is a NYC-based independent research institute. We operate as a dynamic intellectual nonprofit with strong recognition in the technology, academic, and policy sectors. Our work advances public understanding of the social and cultural implications of data-centric technologies and automation. Through interdisciplinary research and engagement, we work to ensure that knowledge guides development and governance of technology.
About the Social Instabilities in Labor Futures Initiative
The Social Instabilities in Labor Futures Initiative researches emergent disruptions in the labor force as a result of data-centric technological development, with a special focus on structural inequalities.
We are hiring for two research positions in Data & Society’s Social Instabilities in Labor Futures Initiative. Successful candidates will conduct original research to advance knowledge relevant to the Initiative’s goals. Researchers will focus on one of the two projects described below and help devise a research plan to get at the open research questions that the team seeks to understand. These positions are full-time, two-year appointments with the possibility of renewal.
Candidates with extensive experience may be considered for a lead position at Data & Society. Additional requirements and responsibilities for the lead are outlined below.
Project #1 : Public Sector Labor and Technology Disruption
New data-driven, surveillance, and algorithmic management technologies are being introduced into many workplace settings, often under the auspices of increasing efficiency and accountability. While considerable public attention is given to workers in retail, ride-hailing, and manufacturing, much less is known about how public sector workers are experiencing these workforce transformations. Governments provide critical infrastructure services and targeted services to disadvantaged populations while under tremendous pressure to reduce costs. Increasingly, they’re turning to technologies of automation in the hopes of doing so.
The goal of this project is to examine one domain of public sector work to understand how technology is being integrated into public sector workforce dynamics, how these tools affect public sector accountability and decision-making structures, and how public sector workers respond to the integration of these technologies. We are open to which subdomain of public sector work might be particularly ideal for understanding the integration of technology, but we see tremendous opportunity in publicly funded home care, sanitation, and public transportation.
For this project, we imagine that a researcher would do deep qualitative (including ethnographic) research in a mutually agreed upon domain to help understand the transformations that are underway and the implications of these transformations on workers, clients, community members, and government. Such a researcher would be well-versed in labor issues more generally.
Project #2: Franchise Entrepreneurship and Financialization
Many of the “small businesses” that exist in the United States are franchises of larger corporations. Workers are often encouraged to be entrepreneurial and purchase a franchise to achieve a dream of business ownership. Yet, franchise owners are often beholden to corporate requirements in ways that leave them with limited room to maneuver as parent companies pressure franchise owners to increase revenue, decrease costs, and implement specific technologies or processes. Meanwhile, employees at franchises struggle to make demands on their bosses who have limited flexibility in certain situations.
This project would look at franchise ownership across sectors (including retail and fast food) to understand how franchise owners are positioned in relation to parent corporations and workers in light of new technologies of automation, efficiency, and surveillance. Relevant technologies might include scheduling software, in-store surveillance systems, key monitoring, iPad customer service tools, etc. One goal of the study would to be understand the kinds of pressures that franchise owners face in trying to maximize their profits and appease the parent company, the way in which technologies are marketed to them as “solutions,” and how they experience their role as entrepreneur/employer in this highly structured environment.
For this project, we imagine that a researcher would conduct extensive interviews with small franchise owners outside of major urban environments and conduct qualitative or ethnographic research into the practices of franchise businesses. Such a researcher would be fluent in understanding business and economic dynamics, perhaps through the lens of organizational sociology.
Additional Qualifications for Research Lead
Additional Research Lead Responsibilities
To apply, please submit the following to [email protected] by December 17, 2018:
Feel free to contact [email protected] with any questions about the position. Questions about the opportunity or process will not reflect negatively on your application.
The work and well-being of Data & Society is strengthened by the diversity of our network and our differences in background, culture, experience, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, and much more. We welcome applications from people of color, women, the LGBTQIA community, and persons with disabilities.