Research Track

Labor Futures

We focus on structural inequalities to analyze how technology is disrupting, destabilizing, and transforming many aspects of the labor force.

Team Members

Recent Highlights

Labor Researchers in the Field

About this Track

The Labor Futures team at Data & Society uses ethnographic research to better understand emergent disruptions in the labor force as a result of data-centric technological development, with a special focus on structural inequalities. Automated decision-making and new tools enable broad control over workers, including their monitoring, evaluation, access to work, shift selection, and pay. We talk to contingent and “gig economy” platform workers in order to understand the new paradigm of algorithmic management in the workplace today. We also offer short reads to synthesize how algorithmic management relies on specific tools and techniques of data collection and worker surveillance. We recently explored these issues through two projects: Mapping Inequalities Across the On-Demand Economy and Understanding Privacy as a Means of Economic Redistribution.

Our current research focuses on 3 areas:

  • Algorithmic inequality
  • Encoded corporate power
  • Work after COVID-19

Latest Research

All Work

  • Longform
    D&S Researcher Madeleine Clare Elish considers the possibility of a full-on replacement of humans by robots. She argues that this scenario is nowhere near as close as we have been led to believe. Though algorithms can do an... Read on Slate
    February 2016
  • Longform
    Pacific Standard
    D&S fellow Karen Levy published an essay on measurement in Pacific Standard's The Future of Work and Workers series: As data analytics and monitoring technologies come to be used in more and more workplaces, we must be att... Read on Pacific Standard
    August 2015
  • Longform
    Data & Society's Intelligence and Autonomy initiative commissioned authors to envision future scenarios for intelligent systems in four domains: medicine, labor, urban design, and warfare. The future scenario around labo... Read on Quartz
    July 2015
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